Friday, March 13, 2015

Food Waste

While the world’s population continues to increase, food waste is increasingly being seen as a serious environmental and economic issue. Not only are millions of households across the world struggling to put food on the table but also food waste comes at a great cost. A new report by the “UK Waste & Resources Action Program” released on Wednesday February 25th, projects that “about 60 million metric tons of food is wasted a year in the United States, with an estimated value of $162 billion”. An estimated 32 million metric tons of it end up in municipal landfills that cost about $1.5 billion dollars to the landfills local governments. Unfortunately this problem is not only limited to the United States. The report estimated that about one third of all food produced in the world is never consumed equal to about $400 billion dollars. According to the United Nations the food that goes unconsumed would be more then enough to feed the 870 million hungry people in the world. Other then being a social cost food waste is also an environmental issue. Food waste in landfills contributes to 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, about 7 percent of the total emissions. It's clear that food waste is a major issue and fixing the problem could drastically affect the world's economy.
Countries and cities across the globe have started programs to reduce food waste. Some cities provide grants to local businesses and nonprofits to help recycle food products. In Hennepin County, Minnesota the government gives grants $10,000 to $50,000. It’s essential that the food industries across the globe come together to provide solutions and incentives to reduce waste.

While many possible solutions are being used to decrease our global food waste, I feel the most important solution that the article did not discuss is to raise awareness. Governments and major food industries must spend money to educate the public on food waste if they want to see positive change. If advertisements were placed in supermarkets displaying food waste statistics, or signs that say to “only buy what you eat,” customers may take notice and reduce their individual food waste. Another possible solution to reducing food waste that could be effective is investing money in how we produce fish, meats, and dairy products are stored and collected. For instance if better refrigeration technology were created we can store food on store shelves for a longer time before going bad. Additionally if investments were used for more efficient food transportation we could get the food to the store quicker and also increase shelf life. There is huge incentive for investing in reducing food waste. The article discussed that reducing “food waste from 20 to 50 percent globally could save $120 billion to $300 billion a year by 2030.” In my opinion the world economy cannot afford to not invest in reducing food waste.
--Brian Beck

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