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Food Wastage Footprint

Impacts on Natural Resources

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (author)

ISBN: 9789251077528

Publication Date: Aug 2013

Format: Paperback

Provides a global account of the environmental footprint of food wastage (i.e. both food loss and food waste) along the food supply chain, focusing on impacts on climate, water, land and bio-diversity.
£28.50

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FAO estimates that each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security, but also to mitigate environmental impacts and resources use from food chains. Although there is today a wide recognition of the major environmental implications of food production, no study has yet analysed the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective. This FAO study provides a global account of the environmental footprint of food wastage (i.e. both food loss and food waste) along the food supply chain, focusing on impacts on climate, water, land and bio-diversity. A model has been developed to answer two key questions: what is the magnitude of food wastage impacts on the environment; and what are the main sources of these impacts, in terms of regions, commodities, and phases of the food supply chain involved – with a view to identify "environmental hotspots" related to food wastage.

The scope of this study is global: the world has been divided in seven regions, and a wide range of agricultural products – representing eight major food commodity groups – has been considered. Impact of food wastage has been assessed along the complete supply chain, from the field to the end-of-life of food. The global volume of food wastage is estimated to be 1.6 Gtonnes of "primary product equivalents", while the total wastage for the edible part of food is 1.3 Gtonnes. This amount can be weighed against total agricultural production (for food and non-food uses), which is about 6 Gtonnes. Without accounting for GHG emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after USA and China. Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga river, or three times the volume of lake Geneva. Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world's agricultural land area. While it is difficult to estimate impacts on biodiversity at a global level, food wastage unduly compounds the negative externalities that monocropping and agriculture expansion into wild
areas create on biodiversity loss, including mammals, birds, fish and amphibians.
Pages 62
Date Published 30 Aug 2013
Publisher Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO
Subject/s Environmental economics   Waste management  

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