Would you like to save the climate one bite at a time?

Christmas is over, New Year’s resolutions have been made. My personal resolution is to practice what I preach: I’m putting an end to food waste at home. Where many food-related resolutions at this time of the year are more feelings-base, my resolution has a solid foundation in science. A recent FAO study reveals the shocking fact that 1/3 of the food produced globally goes to waste.

Blog / Riikka Poukka, Deloitte

As if social inequalities in the global ‘food split’ and the plain and simple waste of resources wasn’t enough, Deloitte’s new study further adds to the pain. It estimates that food production stands for around 15 % of the embedded consumption-based GHG emissions in the EU – and one third of this climate impact is emitted in vain due to wastage.

Reasons for food waste vary. In developing countries, most of food waste is associated with post-harvest losses while in the EU, most of food waste occurs in households and in food processing. In the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the objective is to halve per capita food waste and to reduce food losses along the production and supply chains. According to the FAO study, achieving this target would cut GHG emission from food wastage by 33-38%. As the EU Circular Economy Package highlights, we will need circular economy strategies to reach these ambitious targets.

What are circular economy strategies to reducing food waste?

1. Behavioral change - changing the way people think and act (this is most effective according to GHG /Bion study and Deloitte REFed study 2016).
2. Reducing losses in retail by better estimating demand, alternative valorization of unavoidable food waste (for which collection schemes are needed)
3. Better package design
4. Nutrient recycling.

In total, Deloitte estimates that applying these different circular economy measures could reduce emissions from the food sector between 55 and 64 Mt CO2 equivalent – around 12 to 14 %.

The beef of the food waste dilemma – and in fact of the whole circular economy potential – is to manage waste before it ever occurs. By better understanding demand and all different factors that need to be taken into account in food production, we adopt ecodesign, the highest form in the circular economy and food waste hierarchy. Ecodesign is today better enabled than ever – big data, analytics, digitalization and automatisation all drive us towards better predictions and better understanding of complexity and interdependence – and ultimately better circularity, less wastage and less GHG emissions.

So my New Year’s resolution: to halve food waste at home, focusing on ecodesign based on predictive analytics (i.e. cleaning the fridge every once in a while to understand the current supply and demand) and on behavioral change of my soon-much-better informed and motivated (read: brainwashed and bribed) family.

I encourage everyone to join the challenge – we who have the luxury but not the necessity nor the rationale to waste.

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