Food you throw out does more than hurt you financially, a report from the United Nations claims it also contributes to the third highest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report measures the environmental impact of food waste. According to the report released Wednesday, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year. The waste essentially erases almost one-third of the land, water and other resources used to produce global food supplies.
The report, Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources, considered the consequences of food waste on the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity. The wasted food equates to 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, an emissions total ranking behind only the total emissions of the United States and China.
According to Reuters, a majority of food wasted in the industrial world is from consumers throwing away food they don’t eat. Most of the food waste in developing countries is a result of inefficient farming and a lack of proper storage facilities.
“All of us – farmers and fishers; food processors and supermarkets; local and national governments; individual consumers – must make changes at every link of the human food chain to prevent food wastage from happening in the first place, and re-use or recycle it when we can’t,” said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva.
According to the report, high-income regions were responsible for about 67 percent of all meat waste.
Recognizing the impact of wasting resources, the focus turns to finding a solution. If the total amount of food wasted can be reduced from 30 percent, the challenge of feeding a growing world population becomes even more attainable.
According to a release, the FAO has published a comprehensive ‘tool-kit’ with recommendations on how food loss and waste can be reduced at every stage of the food chain. The tool-kit gives examples of projects around the world that show how national and local governments, farmers, businesses, and individual consumers can take steps to tackle the problem.
On top of the environmental impact, the report estimates food waste causes $750 billion in economic losses annually.