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How food waste affects the environment

More than often than not, we don’t get to see the environmental impact of food waste. But, just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Sadly, it’s actually a huge problem.

If we stop wasting food, though, we could cut human-caused greenhouse gas emissions by 6% to 8%.

But, this is a tough task.

Food waste is created across all stages of production, including transportation and packaging, and it’s the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the entire waste sector, too.

Of course, when food is wasted, it mostly just ends up in a landfill. Here, it’s left to produce lots and lots of methane, which is an even stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

This then absorbs infrared radiation and heats up the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change.

The good news is that food waste is now being targeted in the UN’s list of Sustainable Development Goals.

To reduce the impact of food waste, these goals aim for responsible management of waste, for large companies to adopt sustainable practices, and for a substantial reduction of waste creation by 2030.

This is a great step towards helping to make the world a better place.

But, we must also remember that the environmental impact of food waste isn’t just about gas emissions - it also causes the loss of water and land resources.

To put it simply, whenever we waste food, we’re not only throwing away a tasty piece of fruit or veg, but we’re also wasting the water, land, energy and other resources that went into producing it.

Obviously, the loss of water can directly impact global warming and climate change patterns, but - ironically - it could also get to a point where there won’t be enough water for agricultural use, which could seriously impact food security.

Similarly, when we waste food, we waste land as well, which affects ecosystems and biodiversity.

Believe it or not, it takes around 1.4 billion hectares of land to grow all the food that we waste - that’s around a third of the world’s total agricultural land area.

So, when we think about food waste solutions, it’s really important to consider the environmental impact too.

This means that every consumer, producer and retailer has a role to play in helping to prevent and reduce food waste through recycling, reusing, and through any other sustainable means.

This way, we can guarantee responsible production and consumption - individually and collectively - so we can help save the world, one carrot at a time.


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