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A guide to the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

The 29th September 2022 will see the UN celebrate its third International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.

An annual event that shows how important cutting food waste really is, it puts the spotlight on the public and private sectors to make change.

After all, not only will reduced food waste tackle climate change and support an efficient use of resources, but it’s key for food security too.

Why is it important?

In the UAE alone, 1 million tonnes of food is wasted each year.

Of all this waste, around 14% is lost between harvest and retail, while another 17% is wasted in retail and at consumption.

And, of course, when this food is wasted, it also wastes the energy and resources that went into growing it.

Not only is this food waste devastating to over 800 million people who are currently going hungry, but it makes up around 8% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

A sustainable solution is essential - and it’s needed soon.

Not only is cutting food waste one of the easiest ways to make an impact in the fight against climate change, but in a world where the population - and the amount of hunger - is only increasing, we need to make our food systems more sustainable, while keeping groceries affordable and accessible for everyone.

That’s why the issue was addressed in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Point 12.3 calls for halving per-capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains’ - all by 2030.

Background to the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

2030 is only 8 years away. While we’ve made some progress towards the UN’s goal, greater action is needed on a global and local level.

So, in 2019, the General Assembly announced that the 29th September will be designated as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, giving greater focus to the issue.

The first celebration took place in 2020, educating people on how reducing food waste and loss is essential for sustainable development.

Since then, the day has also been encouraging the development of innovative technology and solutions that are key in making an impact on reducing food waste.

What is the difference between food waste and food loss?

Food loss tends to happen earlier in the supply chain, at the farm, in storage or in transit.

Perhaps the food had to be thrown away because of unfavourable climate conditions, poor storage or inefficient infrastructure for packaging and preserving the food.

Food waste happens later in the process - in the store or at home.

Items are often binned because there are too many of them, they have a limited shelf life, or because stores consider them to be ‘too big’, ‘too small’ or ‘too ugly’.

At home, we waste food every day for a huge variety of reasons - sometimes we buy too much, maybe we haven’t planned our meals or shopping, or perhaps we have cooked too much.

Tips on reducing food waste

One of the easiest ways to reduce food waste is simply by knowing the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates, so you don’t end up throwing away items that are perfectly good.

Storing food properly can keep it fresher for longer, planning meals before we shop will stop us buying too much, or asking for smaller portions at restaurants can prevent leftovers being binned.

Getting creative in the kitchen is a great solution too. Try making your own stock from veggie scraps, or finding ways to use old fruit so it’s not wasted - think smoothies, homemade jam and tasty muffins.

How can we celebrate the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste?

Take part in our food waste challenge to create new, sustainable habits at home, and you could get up to 3 FREE grocery boxes.

The UN is also holding a global virtual event at 16:00 CEST on the 29th September, where experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will share their thoughts on food waste and loss.

You can sign up to the event here.


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