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U.N. Report: World wastes over one billion meals a day

Why is it in the news?

  • The Food Waste Index Report 2024, jointly authored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), a U.K.-based non-profit, reveals alarming statistics regarding global food waste.

Key findings of the report

  • In 2022, over one billion meals were wasted daily worldwide, despite 783 million people facing hunger and a third of humanity experiencing food insecurity.
  • The report indicates that 05 billion tonnes of food waste were generated in 2022, equating to 132 kilograms per capita and nearly one-fifth of all food available to consumers.
  • Household waste accounted for 60% of total food waste, while food services were responsible for 28%, and retail contributed 12%.
  • It emphasizes the need to enhance data infrastructure for tracking and monitoring food waste, particularly in low- and middle-income countries lacking adequate systems to meet Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030.
  • Only four G-20 countries (Australia, Japan, U.K., U.S.) and the European Union currently have suitable food waste estimates for tracking progress towards 2030 goals.
  • Food waste is not solely a problem in rich countries, with average household waste levels showing minimal differences across income brackets. Hotter countries tend to generate more food waste per capita, potentially due to higher consumption of fresh foods and inadequate cold chains.
  • The report highlights the significant environmental impact of food waste, contributing 8-10% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and causing biodiversity loss equivalent to a third of the world’s agricultural land.
  • Rural areas generally waste less food compared to urban areas, often due to better utilization of food scraps for pets, livestock, and home composting.
  • As of 2022, only 21 countries have incorporated food loss and waste reduction into their climate plans or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), urging governments to integrate these strategies to raise climate ambition.
·       Food waste is defined as food and associated inedible parts removed from the human food supply chain, while food loss refers to quantities exiting the post-harvest/slaughter production/supply chain up to the retail level.

·       The Food Waste Index tracks global and national food waste generation at retail and consumer levels, with UNEP as its custodian.


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