According to the FAO, food waste in developed countries occur on retail and consumption level. It is estimated 52% of European food waste comes from consumers, restaurants and caterers. The annual amount of food waste equates to 7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally and 6% of surface and groundwater withdrawals which puts strain on the environment for uneaten food. After USA and China, food wastage is the 3rd greatest emitter of global green house gasses.
Factors like consumer behavior, type of packaging and portion sizes of food products in retail stores, hospitality and the catering industry play an important part in reducing food wastage.
Smarter packaging for the right application prevents food spoilage, protects food quality and safety along the supply chain and extends shelf life. For example: pack sizes are important in the long life categories where once opened the food has a short shelf life and, if too large to consume within the recommended amount of time, the food is thrown out.
The correct packaging saves resources. “A telling fact is that ten times more resources (materials, energy, water etc) are used to produce and distribute food than are used to make the packaging to protect it” (INCPEN Industrial Council for Research on Packaging and the Environment).
There are ways to reduce food wastage within the food industry, for example
– Correct storage conditions
– Use older products first
– Monitor inventory levels, don’t over-purchase
– Revise the menu
– Use alternative ‘best fit’ packaging
There will always be food wastage but it does not need to end up in our landfills. Fats, oils and grease can be converted to biodiesel. Food scraps and compostable packaging can add nutritional value to compost.