WHY IS FOOD WASTE A PROBLEM?
Approximately one-third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted. Indeed, it is not wrong to say that the food waste is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today.
Hunger in a Food Enrich World
Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over $1 trillion (WFPUSA, 2019), whereas 820 million people go to bed hungry every night. That is 1 in 9 people on the planet who are starving or malnourished. There are many reasons for world hunger, and food waste is one of the reasons for hunger in addition to poverty, climate change, weather, war and conflicts, policies, lack of investment in agriculture, population growth, and market dynamics.
There is a paradox of hunger that pervades in Pakistan as well for the consumption of food. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranked Pakistan frightening 94th out of 117 countries. On the one hand, we are categorized among the hungriest and food-scarce on earth; and on the other, we let an even more astonishing amount of food go to waste. Around 40 percent of the cooked food is wasted in Pakistan (LHC Judgement Sheet, 2019) , and some estimates indicate that is 36 million tons of food which go to waste annually. At the same time, 43% of the country’s population is food insecure.
Hunger isn’t about a lack of food. Right now, the world produces enough food to nourish every man, woman, and child on the planet. Every one of them could be sufficiently fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted each year (NATGEO, 2015).
We are not only throwing away 1.3 billion tons of food, but with it also an enormous amount of water, land, and energy used to produce process and handle the food), it is also notable that only 3% of wasted food is actually composted. The result is that food waste creates 8% of all greenhouse gases in the world! If we assume food waste as a country, it would be ranked third-largest after China and the US for its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.
Damage to Our Land
Our planet is changing more than ever before. We are cutting down our forests, degrading our land, exploiting our seas, and polluting our soil. We are currently in the midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction and witnessing an alarming decline in biodiversity. Our food system, and with it food waste, is the number one contributing factor that drives this threatening change in nature through land use change, pollution, and climate change. (GlobalGoalsUN, 2019).
Waste of Energy
An estimated 30% of available global energy use to run food systems and food that is lost or wasted consume 38% of that energy (FAO, 2015). To produce food, we cut down the forest and burn fossil fuels, which emits CO2 into the atmosphere. Moreover, increased demand for meat and the use of landfill results in the emission of methane, while hydrofluorocarbons are emitted from produce refrigeration, and nitrogen dioxide is emitted from fertilizers.
Waste of Water
Earth is known as a blue planet because 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. Life fundamentally depends on water, and if there is no water, there is no life. Although water seems abundant across our planet, unfortunately, only a small percentage (about 0.3 percent) is even usable by humans. The other 99.7 percent is in the oceans, soils, icecaps, and floating in the atmosphere. Still, much of the 0.3 percent that is useable is unattainable (NGWA). On top of that, we are quickly deteriorating our most valuable resource at an alarming rate. Water is becoming scarce, and we now have to dig even deeper to access new sources, as we continue to waste food and with it our foundation of life.
“Even if water makes up 70% of the Earth’s surface, 97% of it is spread across 5 ocean basins as salt water. Actually, only 2.5% of all water on our planet is fresh water, while 70% of that is locked away in glaciers and ice caps. All in all, humans can use both ground and surface water, but these sources are quickly running out…”(USGS, 2013)
Food waste also means wasting valuable resources such as water. Each year, more than 66 trillion gallons of water goes toward producing food that is wasted (WWF, 2019). This means that the global water footprint of food waste is higher than that of any country (FAO, 2013). Today, food waste accounts for a quarter of our water use for irrigation – equivalent to the worldwide water withdrawal by the industrial sector(SIWI, 2012).
Waste of Money
Wasting food is the waste of money and its economic cost currently valued at $1 trillion and may increase to $1.5 trillion by 2030 at current rates (BCG, 2018; FAO, 2014). This is the money that was invested in harvesting, transporting, packaging, cooling, and buying food, and which will all eventually end up in the bin.
There is a paradox of hunger that pervades in Pakistan as well for the consumption of food. The Global Health Index (GHI) ranked Pakistan frightening 94th out of 117 countries. On the one hand, we are categorized among the hungriest and food-scarce on earth; and on the other, we let an even more astonishing amount of food go to waste. 40 percent of the cooked food is