Some 931 million tons of it went to waste in 2019, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Individual households were responsible for more than half of that, with the rest coming from retailers and the food service industry. New estimates show that about 17% of food available to consumers worldwide that year ended up being wasted. The matter is even more urgent when considered alongside another UN analysis that tracks the problem further up the supply chain, and shows 14% of food production is lost before it reaches stores. Waste is happening at every point, from the field to the dinner table.
Food waste and loss are responsible for as much as 10% of global emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If it were a country, this discard would rank third in the ranking of the world’s sources of greenhouse gases, after China and the U.S. Among the most effective climate solutions, non-profit Project Drawdown ranks cutting food waste ahead of moving to electric cars and switching to plant-based diets. Thursday’s UNEP report suggests the amount of food wasted by consumers could be about double the previous estimate. The analysis conducted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in 2011 relied on data from fewer countries.