Each year the world produces almost 4 billion tons of food in the form of produce, meat, seafood, and poultry. Unfortunately, some of these products will never find their way onto a plate as a third of the world’s produced food is ultimately wasted.
To put things in perspective, 1.3 billion tons of food is enough to feed close to 2 billion people. The main factors behind this whopping amount of wasted sustenance were identified to be poor transportation, spoilage, and lack of consumption.
When foods such as meat, poultry, and seafood are shipped between cities and countries, they must often be stored in refrigerated containers. Due to a severe lack of infrastructure, many of these “cold chains” are broken at one point or another, leaving the food unrefrigerated.
As stated earlier, fungal spoilage is also a severe contributor to global food wastage. This can occur when produce is moved through humid environments or stored for extended periods of time.
One of the highest sources of food waste by far is unconsumed food from commercial establishments. All in all, uneaten or discarded food makes up 68% of the world’s global food waste.
When food is discarded, it usually ends up in a landfill where it decomposes and releases methane, a particularly strong greenhouse gas. If the world wishes to cut down on the hazardous effects of food waste, serious thought should be given to how food is consumed and discarded.
One feasible option for cleaner disposal is the use of waste-to-energy plants, which use discarded food to generate electricity. Instead of leaving wasted food to decompose in a landfill, countries like Singapore burn the food in order to power electrical turbine generators.
Along with this, the island city-state has also facilitated significant change by targeting consumers. With a “Zero Waste Masterplan” in effect, Singaporeans are also being urged to cut down on their food waste by buying fewer groceries and eating their leftovers.
These strategies have yielded a sizeable 10.6% decrease in food waste for Singapore within a single year. Other countries may yet find success if they too apply similar measures to reduce food waste.