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UNEP Food Waste Index Report

  • Published on February 9, 2022

An estimated 931 million tonnes of food, or 17% of total food available to consumers in 2019, went into the waste bins of households, retailers, restaurants and other food services, according to new UN research conducted to support global efforts to halve food waste by 2030.

The Food Waste Index Report 2021, from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partner organization WRAP, looks at food waste that occurs in retail outlets, restaurants and homes – counting both food and inedible parts like bones and shells. The report presents the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date, and offers a methodology for countries to measure food waste. 152 food waste data points were identified in 54 countries.

The report finds that in nearly every country that has measured food waste, it was substantial, regardless of income level. It shows that most of this waste comes from households, which discard 11% of the total food available at the consumption stage of the supply chain. Food services and retail outlets waste 5% and 2% respectively. On a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households. The report also includes regional and national per capita estimates.

Food waste has substantial environmental, social and economic impacts. At a time when climate action is still lagging, 8%-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed, when losses before consumer level are taken into account. At the same time, food waste occurs while 821 million people are hungry and 3 billion are unable to afford a healthy diet. The report provides a common methodology for member state measurement and reporting on food waste, in line with SDG 12.3, enabling countries to understand the scale of the problem and track progress to 2030.

Food waste reduction is an integral part of Sustainable Development Goal 12, Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, enshrined in Target 12.3, to halve food waste and reduce food loss across supply chains by 2030. Food systems in which a third of production is lost and wasted are not consistent with sustainable consumption and production, noting in particular the climate, water, biodiversity, food security and economic burden of such elevated levels of wastage. Through robust measurement using the Food Waste Index methodology, countries take stock of a problem that has been too easily overlooked, assess the efficacy of interventions and monitor progress on SDG 12.3. The UNEP Food Waste Index Report provides both best available country-level data as well as a common methodology for member states to measure and report on Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. 

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