An estimated 931 million tonnes of food, or 17 per cent of total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants and other food services, according to the Food Waste Index Report 2021 published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partner organisation WRAP in March 2021. The weight roughly equals that of 23 million fully loaded 40-tonne trucks - bumper-to-bumper, enough to circle the Earth seven times.
The report presents a comprehensive food-waste data collection, analysis and modelling, and offers a methodology for countries to measure food waste. 152 food waste data points were identified in 54 countries.
The report finds that in nearly every country that has measured food waste, it was substantial, regardless of income level. It shows that most of this waste comes from households, which discard 11 per cent of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain. Food services and retail outlets waste 5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. On a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer-level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households. The report also includes regional and national per capita estimates.
Food waste has substantial environmental, social and economic impacts. For example, at a time when climate action is still lagging, 8–10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed, when losses before consumer level are taken into account.
Countries can raise climate ambition by including food waste in Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, while strengthening food security and cutting costs to households. This makes food waste prevention also a primary area for inclusion in COVID-19 recovery strategies.
Read more at UNEP website and download the 2021 Food Waste Index Report