One third of world's food is wasted, says UN study

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About one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste, according to a study commissioned by the United Nations food agency.

That amounts to more than one billion tonnes of waste around the world every year.

The study recommends that developing countries should improve production and distribution, so as to stop losing so much food.

It also says industrialised countries must stop throwing so much away.

Loss versus waste

The UN study, by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, was aimed at an international trade fair for the food packaging industry, to be held in Germany later this month.

Among the key findings are that consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food, 222 million tonnes, as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that fruit and vegetables - including roots and tubers - go to waste more than other types of food.

But the report, entitled Global Food Losses and Food Waste, has a different analysis of the problem for different types of economy.

Commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it distinguishes between food loss and food waste.

Losses happen during the production, processing and distribution of food. They affect developing countries worst. The answer is to improve technology and infrastructure, the study says.

Food waste is the big issue in industrialised countries. It is mainly due to retailers and consumers throwing perfectly edible food into the bin.

Waste amounts to around 100kg (more than 200lb) per consumer in Europe and North America every year.

Consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and most of Asia each throw away just 6-11kg.

At retail level, large quantities of fresh food is wasted because of the way it looks. The Swedish researchers reviewed surveys showing that consumers were willing to buy produce that looks imperfect, as long as it is safe and tastes good.

Customers have the power to influence quality standards and should do so, the report says.

And it criticises "buy one, get one free" promotions for their tendency to lead to waste.

Food loss and waste are also a major squandering of resources - water, land, energy and labour - and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Due to this Food waste recycling is high on the agenda of Environmental Legislation and at Cawleys, we recognise these key waste management issues facing the food and drink sector. We encourage alternative and more sustainable food waste disposal solutions which often prove to be more cost effective and environmentally friendly than increasingly expensive and outdated traditional disposal options.

Our expertise, versatility and commitment to delivering a premium environmental service have made Cawleys a market leader in the organic waste sector.

Cawleys Waste Management can handle a wide range of foodstuffs which can prove difficult to dispose of, from raw meat and liquids, to heavily packaged, out-of-date stock. We can utilise our network of treatment points to find the most cost-effective, sustainable solution for each case covering:

Biogas/Anaerobic Digestion
In-Vessel Composting
Animal Feed Merchants
Rendering Plants for animal by products
Waste to Energy Plants

For more information see our Food waste recycling page

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Cawleys offer a professional and expert service for all your waste management and recycling requirements. Family owned and run Cawleys retain a core ethos of excellent customer care employing experienced industry professionals and a dedicated team of support staff to provide the best service we can to all our customers be they large or small.

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