Global impacts of food waste
How much food is wasted?
The global volume of food wasted per year is estimated to be 1.3 Gtons. This can be compared to the total agricultural production (for food and non-food uses such as textile fibers, energy crops of medicinal plants), which is about 6 Gtonnes.
According to Practice Greenhealth's Sustainability Benchmark Report, hospitals generate over 29 pounds of waste per staffed bed per day; about one-third of healthcare's waste is comprised of food.
Where and how does food waste mostly occur?
Waste happens at all steps of production, handling, storage, processing, distribution and consumption. Agricultural production is responsible for the greatest amount of total food waste volumes, 33% of the total. Waste occurring at the consumption level is much more variable, with waste in middle and high-income regions at 31–39%, but much lower in low-income regions, at 4–16%.
What is the impact of food waste on greenhouse gas emissions and climate?
Without accounting for GHG emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to 3.3 Gtons of CO2-equivalent. For a sense of scale, when considering the total emissions by country, only the USA and China are responsible for more emissions.
What is the water footprint related to food waste?
Globally, the consumption of surface and groundwater resources of food waste (the so called blue water footprint) is about 250 km³, which is equivalent to 3.6 times consumption of the USA for the same period. Animal products in general, have a larger water footprint per ton of product than crops. This is one of the reasons why it is more efficient to obtain calories, protein and fat through crop products than through animal products.