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Will Increasing Food Waste Awareness Reduce Emissions On Planet Earth?

It is estimated more than 33% of all food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted; this includes a significant portion of fresh fruits and vegetables. The exact amount of food waste varies greatly depending on the country, but the total amount of food is a whopping 1.3 billion metric tons per year (1,300,000,000 MT) wasted annually.

In addition to food lost during production, storage, and transportation, a high volume of food waste also occurs at the consumer level, particularly in developed countries, where high standards of food quality, convenience, and over-

consumption contribute waste. A large percentage of fruit and vegetables is rejected because it simply 'doesn't look good' in the supermarket display.

Food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in several ways.

  1. Methane emissions from landfills: When food waste ends up in landfills, it decomposes and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

  2. Carbon emissions from food production: The production of food, including growing, harvesting, processing, and transportation, requires energy and releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. When food goes to waste, all of the energy and resources invested in producing it are also wasted, leading to additional carbon emissions.

  3. Agriculture emissions: Agricultural activities such as livestock production also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. When food waste results in over-production of crops, it also leads to additional emissions from agricultural activities.

Food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of the food system, from production to disposal. Reducing food waste is therefore an important step towards a more sustainable food system.

Australian based social enterprise group asks this question; How do you get the balance right if you want to match environmental sustainability with commercial sustainability?

In Australia alone 7.6 million tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year, that's the equivalent to 19,000 jumbo jets ( precisely 19,192.96 747s actually)

Globally 70% of the world's fresh water is used for agriculture that's 180 trillion litres of water as well;

  • 20% of green house gas emissions are Methane. Wasted food in landfills contributes to the total of this powerful heat trapping gas

  • Energy that goes into running farm machinery to produce all that food is wasted too ie. the cost of diesel.

  • 30% of all the world's farmland is used to produce wasted food

  • Not surprisingly, food waste impacts land quality and biodiversity through deforestation and the degradation of over-worked soil

In New Zealand, the so-called , 'Land of Milk and Honey' the wasted food stats for a combined population of slightly over 5-million people is not attractive at all.

The average annual waste cost per head of population sits at $640 and is growing; that's a gross waste in monetary terms of $3.2 Billion annually !!!

But it's the vegetables and fruit either thrown away after harvest or rejected by supermarkets which has and very concerned. Both have activated initiatives to not only build community awareness of the facts but also stimulate interest in using imperfect fruit and vegetables not up to 'Instagram pic standards'.

Co-founder, Richard Tourino, has seen his fair share of quirky looking fruit and veg since launching in 2020.

“Food waste is a massive issue in Australia, with 25% fresh produce never leaving the farm** because it isn’t pretty enough for supermarket shelves. We want to change attitudes towards ‘fugly’ fruit and veg and create a bit of fun with this competition" says Tourino. ** 38.7% of all lettuce is thrown away.

Perfectly Imperfect says in New Zealand its already saved 308 Olympic size swimming pool​s worth of water along with 665,000+ kilograms of carbon emission reductions. They have a Gleaning Box and Rescued Tomato Sauce program running and boast more than 2-thousand members.

There's another initiative also happening during the month of March in NZ; The Food Waste Action Week. Check this out and see how you, your family, community or school group can raise awareness that food waste costs; not just the hip pocket but also the environment.

So whether it's recovering and using 'ugly fruit or vegetables', buying rescued waste or simply reducing your plate and portion size, there ARE ways and MEANS massive contributions can be made to not only saving your food budget but also reducing greenhouse emissions which Planet Earth will be grateful for.



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