Nov 13, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The global problem of food waste keeps piling up

Food waste London
Food waste from a shop in London. Photo: Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year.

Why it matters: Given the rising cost of staples and growing rates of global hunger, curtailing food waste could be one of the most efficient ways to feed more people with the food already produced.

By the numbers: 1.3 billion metric tons of food never makes it to consumers, either lost between the farm and the market or wasted once it gets there, according to a new report from the appliance maker Bosch.

  • China produces the most food waste overall, at 179 million metric tons, followed by India at 128 million metric tons and the U.S. at 45 million metric tons.
  • On a per capita basis, Greece has the highest levels of household food waste, at 141 kg per capita, while Malaysia tops the table for waste from food service and retail establishments.

The other side: Russians stand out as unusually thrifty, wasting just 33 kgs per capita at the household level, the lowest in the world.

  • U.S. households waste nearly twice as much per capita.

The bottom line: The good news for a still hungry world is that we can potentially feed more people without increasing emissions by making more out of what we already have.

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