UN report reveals One billion tons of food wasted every year

11 Food Waste UN report reveals One billion tons of food wasted every year Arboreal

The Food Waste Index Report 2021 – produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partner organization WRAP – reveals that between food wasted in homes, restaurants and shops, 17% of all food is just dumped.

In 2019, more than 930 million tonnes of food sold landed in waste bins, according to new UN research, released on Thursday, in support of global efforts to halve food waste by 2030. 

The study represents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling ever done, and offers a methodology for countries to accurately measure loss.

“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”, said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “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”

The study reveals that households discard 11% of food at the consumption stage of the supply chain.  Food services and retail outlets waste 5% and 2% respectively.  Globally, around 14% of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. 

The fact that substantial amounts of food are produced but not eaten has substantial environmental, social and economic impacts, according to the report, which estimates that 8% to 10%  of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed.

When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food, —including water, land, energy, labour and capital—go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

In 2019, some 690 million people were impacted by hunger and three billion were unable to afford a healthy diet.  

Against that backdrop and with COVID-19 threatening to exacerbate these numbers, the study urges consumers not to waste food at home. It also pushes for food waste to be included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), plans through which countries commit to increasingly ambitious climate actions in the Paris Agreement.

The Food Waste Index Report aims at supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 12.3): “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”. It does so by presenting the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date, generating a new estimate of global food waste; and publishing a methodology for countries to measure food waste, at household, food service and retail level, to track national progress towards 2030 and to report on SDG 12.3.

Reducing food waste at retail, food service and household level can provide multi-faceted benefits for both people and the planet. However, the true scale of food waste and its impacts have not been well understood until now. 


Check the Food Waste Index Report 2021 and learn more by United Nations Environment Programme here