Almost 100 million tonnes, or 17% of total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants and other food services, according to new research presented to the UN by Wrap.
The Food Waste Index Report 2021, released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), found nearly every country that measured food waste showed most of it came from households, which discard 11% of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain.
Food services and retail outlets wasted 5% and 2% respectively.
The research found on a global per capita level, 121kg of consumer-level food was wasted each year, with 74kg of this happening in households.
The index is a key part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 12.3, which aims to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains.
“Reducing food waste would cut greenhouse gas emissions, slow the destruction of nature through land conversion and pollution, enhance the availability of food and thus reduce hunger and save money at a time of global recession,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste. The UN Food Systems Summit this year will provide an opportunity to launch bold new actions to tackle food waste globally.”
“For a long time, it was assumed that food waste in the home was a significant problem only in developed countries,” said Marcus Gover, CEO of Wrap. “With the publication of the Food Waste Index report, we see that things are not so clear cut.
“With only nine years to go, we will not achieve SDG target 12.3 if we do not significantly increase investment in tackling food waste in the home globally. This must be a priority for governments, international organisations, businesses and philanthropic foundations.”