web analytics

Wasted food and carbon footprint

Written By: - Date published: 12:34 pm, August 6th, 2016 - 17 comments
Categories: climate change, farming, food, global warming, sustainability - Tags: , , ,

Last month I found this story pretty staggering. I always knew that “Western” countries threw away too much food – but – half?

Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests

The demand for ‘perfect’ fruit and veg means much is discarded, damaging the climate and leaving people hungry

Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.

Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.

By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs.

But that is just a “downstream” measure. In more than two dozen interviews, farmers, packers, wholesalers, truckers, food academics and campaigners described the waste that occurs “upstream”: scarred vegetables regularly abandoned in the field to save the expense and labour involved in harvest. Or left to rot in a warehouse because of minor blemishes that do not necessarily affect freshness or quality.

When added to the retail waste, it takes the amount of food lost close to half of all produce grown, experts say. …

It’s not recent, and it’s not just America (2013):

Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds

Figures from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers show as much as 2bn tonnes of food never makes it on to a plate

As much as half of all the food produced in the world – equivalent to 2bn tonnes – ends up as waste every year, engineers warned in a report published on Thursday.

The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) blames the “staggering” new figures in its analysis on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and Western consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food, along with “poor engineering and agricultural practices”, inadequate infrastructure and poor storage facilities.

In the face of United Nations predictions that there could be about an extra 3 billion people to feed by the end of the century and growing pressure on the resources needed to produce food, including land, water and energy, the IMechE is calling for urgent action to tackle this waste.

Their report, Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not, found that between 30% and 50% or 1.2-2bn tonnes of food produced around the world never makes it on to a plate. …

This has to change (“Give me spots on my apples – But leave me the birds and the bees – Please!”). And it’s an easy win in the urgent need to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture and other human activities (see Bill’s excellent series on this).

The Italian intiaitive reported in The Herald yesterday is a great idea and we should adopt it here:

Italy passes law encouraging supermarkets to give unsold food to needy

The Italian government has overwhelmingly backed a new set of laws aimed at cutting down the vast amounts of food wasted in the country each year.

A bill passed by 181 Senators will encourage families to use “doggy bags” to take home unfinished food after eating out and removes hurdles for farmers and supermarkets seeking to donate food to charity.

The goal to cut the five million tonnes of food wasted every year by at least one million tonnes was only opposed by two Senators and abstained from by one when put to a vote in Italy’s upper house on 2 August.

Ministers have said that food waste is costing Italy’s business and households more than €12 billion (£10 billion) a year, or about 1 per cent of GDP. …

Helps the poor, reduces waste, win win. But it’s just a start. We need to massively change attitudes and behaviour to reduce food waste.

17 comments on “Wasted food and carbon footprint ”

  1. I didn’t realize it was so bad. Makes a mockery of the ‘not enough food, we can’t feed everybody’ brigade. I despair for the hunan race sometimes.

  2. RedLogix 2

    The system always needed ‘disposable’ people in order to work. It’s taken different forms over the ages, from human sacrifice, slavery, institutionalised warfare, debt and servitude. But it’s always there as part of the background of our lives and most of the time we stop noticing it.

    • r0b 2.1

      Time to notice it now!

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        which political party or economic force is willing to restructure the economy in a way which does away with treating people as disposable?

        To do that, you would have to go directly against the short term economic interests of the top 1% to 2%, and especially of the top 0.1%.

        • Hmmm, humans not being disposable and long-term policy against the interests of the wealthy elite… I swear, it’s like I’m at a Green Party meeting. 😛

    • ropata 2.2

      the parasitic elite is unsustainable, it’s their system, a different model is possible, but it will be a struggle to get there.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Capitalism and it’s huge amount of waste strike again. Can’t maintain prices if there’s an excess of food available.

    • ropata 3.1

      Artificial scarcity is needed to perpetuate economic crimes against the poor. They are externalities in the quest for profit.

      No rush to solve the housing crisis in Auckland either. Empty green belts in Christchurch help to prop up inner city land values.

      Privatised power companies, telcos, and Aussie banks are making record profits though.

  4. red-blooded 4

    Just picking up on one part of this discussion: one way to help in meeting “the urgent need to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture and other human activities” is to opt out of raising animals for food production. Agriculture is a terrible use of land, water, space, soil, nutrient and other resources; is very polluting and has an awful carbon footprint. It’s also cruel. We don’t need to do it.
    http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/facts-on-animal-farming-and-the-environment/
    http://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources
    http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/
    http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/

    Note, I’ve included the report from Time (which links on to a second report on the environmental impacts of dairy consumption) to show that even those who argue that animal farming needs to be more “efficient” (cruel) agree that the only real way to control the environmental effects of agriculture is for people to eat less meat.

    Of course, more people becoming vegetarian or vegan won’t stop people wanting cosmetically perfect fruit, but it would be another way of decreasing environmental and social harms caused by attitudes to food, and it’s an issue that each person reading this site can actually do something meaningful about.

    • Leftie 4.1

      Been a vegetarian over half of my life and have never regretted it. Not only is being vegetarian a simpler way of life, it can be more economical too. Some of my meat eating friends that have growing families are having to have meatless days during the week, because they are finding the cost of meat too expensive.

  5. Leftie 5

    Yes, this is a great initiative, was just thinking about this the other day. I hate food wastage, and there is a hell of lot of that going on in NZ. I would like to see a similar law that Italy has passed, introduced here.

  6. Rocco Siffredi 6

    Food is cheaper now than it has ever been.

    • Leftie 6.1

      Food in NZ is very expensive Rocco Siffredi, what makes you think food is cheaper now than it has ever been? A lot of people trying to make their dollars stretch at the supermarket may disagree with you.

    • mosa 6.2

      Rocco food would including healthy options be even more affordable without the 15% GST levy that goes up to give the rich more of their money back because they need it.
      Yeah attitudes need too change in NZ about a lot of things including the myth that having two main supermarket companies in a deregulated enviroment somehow makes food even cheaper which is bullshit.
      At least the Italians make a decision and get on with it ,we would still be arguing the merits in 5 years time wasting this precious resource by another million tonnes in the meantime.

    • The New Student 6.3

      Might seem cheap because of cheap labour. For instance: bananas.

      I’m glad that story is in the mainstream at the moment. Maybe it might help connect the dots for a few of us

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ economy’s strong momentum will support rebound from Delta outbreak; COVID fund replenished
    The economy showed strong momentum in the period leading up to the recent Delta COVID-19 outbreak, which bodes well for a solid economic rebound, Grant Robertson said. GDP rose 2.8 percent in the June quarter, following on from a 1.4 percent increase in the previous March quarter. This was a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Projects create benefits into the future
    Making a well-known lake swimmable and helping to halt the decline of the endangered hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins are among a suite of new projects being supported by the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme across the southern South Island, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “It’s no secret that many of our most ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • New members appointed to Kāpuia
    The Government is adding four additional members to Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques. “I’m looking forward to having Pamela MacNeill, Huia Bramley, Melani Anae and Katherine Dedo  join Kāpuia and contribute to this group’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Timeline confirmed for Emissions Reductions Plan
    Cabinet has agreed to begin consulting on the Emissions Reduction Plan in early October and require that the final plan be released by the end of May next year in line with the 2022 Budget, the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw confirmed today. “Cabinet’s decision allows organisations and communities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pay parity pathway for early learning teachers confirmed
    Pay parity conditions and higher funding rates for education and care services will come into force on 1 January, 2022, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government signalled this work in Budget 2021. “From 1 January, 2022, centres opting into the scheme will receive government funding and be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation Conference 2021
    Kia Ora tatau katoa.   Ka tuku mihi ki nga nēhi, He pou Hauora o Aotearoa, E ora ai tatou.   Whakatau mai  I runga i te kaupapa o te ra Te NZNO conference.   Tena koutou tena koutou Tena tatou katoa   Good morning, and thank you inviting me ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government investment in farmer-led catchment groups sweeps past 150 mark
    171 catchment groups have now been invested in by the Government 31 catchment groups in the Lower North Island are receiving new support More than 5,000 farmers are focussed on restoring freshwater within a generation through involvement in catchment groups  Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Fight to protect kauri on track
    The Government is pitching in to help vital work to protect nationally significant kauri forests in Auckland, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says. “Ensuring the survival of these iconic trees for future generations means doing everything we can to prevent the potential spread of kauri dieback disease,” Kiri Allan said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Joint statement of Mr Bernard Monk; Hon Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry,...
    [Note: The Parties have agreed on terms to fully and finally settle the proceeding and will jointly issue the below statement.] At the heart of this litigation are the lives of the 29 men tragically lost at the Pike River mine on 19 November 2010 and to whom we pay ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • More financial support for businesses
    Today’s decision to keep Auckland in a higher COVID Alert Level triggers a third round of the Wage Subsidy Scheme which will open for applications at 9am this Friday. “The revenue test period for this payment will be the 14th to the 27th of September. A reminder that this is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand provides further humanitarian support for Afghanistan
    Aotearoa New Zealand is providing a further $3 million in humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  “There is significant humanitarian need in Afghanistan, with the crisis disproportionately affecting women and girls,” said Nanaia Mahuta. The UN has estimated that 80% of the quarter of a million ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Innovative te reo prediction tool announced in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
    A new Māori language prediction tool will play a key role in tracking our te reo Māori revitalisation efforts, Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. He Ara Poutama mō te reo Māori (He Ara Poutama) can forecast the number of conversational and fluent speakers of te reo Māori ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Further Government support for people to access food and essential items
    The Government is responding to need for support in Auckland and has committed a further $10 million to help people access ongoing food and other essential items, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today. This latest tranche is targeted at the Auckland region, helping providers and organisations to distribute ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Half a million Pfizer vaccines from Denmark
    The Government has secured an extra half a million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from Denmark that will start arriving in New Zealand within days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “This is the second and larger agreement the Government has entered into to purchase additional vaccines to meet the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Inland Revenue providing essential COVID support for businesses
    Inland Revenue is seeing increased demand for Resurgence Support Payments and other assistance schemes that it administers, but is processing applications quickly, Revenue Minister David Parker said today. David Parker said the Resurgence Support Payment, the Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme and the Wage Subsidy are available at the same ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand marks 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks
    New Zealand is expressing unity with all victims, families and loved ones affected by the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, and all terrorist attacks around the world since, including in New Zealand. “Saturday marks twenty years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Speech to SPREP Environment Ministers
    Talofa Honourable Ulu of Tokelau Faipule Kelihiano Kalolo Tēnā koutou katoa and warm Pacific greetings from Aotearoa to your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. The new science released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 August paints an alarming picture of the projected impacts of climate change on the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Additional Resurgence Support Payments to support business
    Businesses affected by higher Alert Levels will be able to apply for further Resurgence Support Payments (RSP). “The Government’s RSP was initially intended as a one-off payment to help businesses with their fixed costs, such as rent. Ministers have agreed to provide additional payments to recognise the effects of an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More Dawn Raids scholarships announced
    Details of the ‘Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Training Scholarships’, a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s, were released today by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio. “These scholarships that are targeted to the Pacific will support the kaupapa of the Dawn Raids’ ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • One-way quarantine-free travel for RSE workers starting in October
      One-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu starts in October New requirement for RSE workers to have received their first vaccination pre-departure, undertake Day 0 and Day 5 tests, and complete a self-isolation period of seven days, pending a negative Day 5 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt boosts Pacific suicide prevention support
    Applications have opened for the Pacific Suicide Prevention Community Fund as the Government acts to boost support amid the COVID delta outbreak. “We know strong and connected families and communities are the most important protective factor against suicide and this $900,000 fund will help to support this work,” Health Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt parks the expiry of licenses, WoFs and regos
    As a result of the Delta outbreak, driver licences, Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licences (‘regos’) and licence endorsements that expired on or after 21 July 2021 will be valid until 30 November 2021, Transport Minister Michael Wood has announced today. “While this extension won’t officially ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19 community fund to provide support for vulnerable women and girls
    Minister for Women Jan Tinetti today announced a $2 million community fund that will provide support for women and girls adversely affected by COVID-19. “We know that women, particularly those who are already vulnerable, are disproportionally affected by the kind of economic disruption caused by COVID-19,” Jan Tinetti said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Next phase of support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response announced
    A further NZ$12 million of support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response has been announced by Foreign Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today. The package builds on previous tranches of assistance Aotearoa New Zealand has provided to Fiji, totalling over NZ$50 million. “Fiji remains in a very challenging position in their response to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Robotic asparagus harvester aimed at addressing industry challenges
    The Government is backing a $5 million project to develop a commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing $2.6 million to the project. Project partner Robotics Plus Limited (RPL) will build on a prototype asparagus ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Additional Pfizer vaccines to arrive tomorrow
    More than a quarter of a million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine are on their way from Spain to New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. The additional doses will arrive in Auckland on Friday morning to help meet the current surge in demand for vaccination. “It’s been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Young people to have their voices heard in Youth Parliament 2022
    The dates and details for Youth Parliament 2022 have been announced today by Minister for Youth Priyanca Radhakrishnan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Youth Parliament is an opportunity for 141 young people from across Aotearoa New Zealand to experience the political process and learn how government works. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Boosting support for tertiary students affected by COVID-19
    Students facing a hard time as a result of COVID-19 restrictions will continue to be supported,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. The Government is putting a further $20 million into the Hardship Fund for Learners, which will help around 15,000 students to stay connected to their studies and learning. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Immediate relief available for Māori and iwi organisations
    The Government has reprioritised up to $5 million to provide immediate relief to vulnerable whānau Māori and communities during the current COVID-19 outbreak Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson announced today. The COVID-19 2021 Whānau Recovery Fund will support community-driven, local responses to gaps in access and provision of critical ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New beef genetics programme to deliver cows with smaller environmental hoof-print
    The Government is backing a genetics programme to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. Informing New Zealand Beef is a seven-year partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand that is expected to result in more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Appointments to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced new appointments to the board of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Former Associate Minister of Education, Hon Tracey Martin, has been appointed as the new Chair for NZQA, replacing the outgoing Acting and Deputy Chair Professor Neil Quigley after an 11-year tenure on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt supports residential house building by allowing manufacture of building supplies
    The Government has agreed to allow some building product manufacturing to take place in Auckland during Covid lockdown to support continued residential construction activity across New Zealand. “There are supply chain issues that arise from Alert Level 4 as building products that are manufactured domestically are mostly manufactured in Auckland. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government invests in scientific research to boost economy, address climate change and enhance wellb...
    Research, Science and Innovation Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods has today announced the recipients of this year’s Endeavour Fund to help tackle the big issues that New Zealanders care about, like boosting economic performance, climate change, transport infrastructure and wellbeing. In total, 69 new scientific research projects were awarded over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Transport to drive economic recovery
    The Government is investing a record amount in transport services and infrastructure to get New Zealand moving, reduce emissions and support the economic recovery, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today. The 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) was released today which outlines the planned investments Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government congratulates NZ Paralympic team
    The Government has congratulated New Zealand’s Paralympic Team following an outstanding showing at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. “Our New Zealand Paralympian athletes have once again shown incredible talent, tenacity and determination at the Tokyo Paralympic Games winning 12 medals, with every athlete who represented New Zealand making us so proud,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa mourns passing of creative icon Billy Apple
    Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni has expressed her condolences at the passing of Billy Apple, one of New Zealand’s most influential artists. “Today we’ve lost a giant of New Zealand art. Billy was a creative visionary, an inspiration and a friend to so many,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “Billy ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government attempted to deport terrorist
    The lifting of final suppression orders relating to the Auckland terrorist shows Immigration New Zealand had been attempting for years to deport him and also sought to detain him while deportation was considered in order to keep him out of the community. “The individual arrived in New Zealand in October ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s update on the 3 September Auckland terrorist attack
    ***Check against delivery*** I want to begin with an update on the status of our victims from yesterday’s attack. We’re aware now that there were a total of seven people injured. There are five people in hospital, three are in a critical condition. The remaining victims have been treated and are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Tonga’s language week goes virtual 
    This year’s Tonga Language week is going to be a virtual affair because of the nationwide lockdowns for Covid 19, said the Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio. “We have been working closely with the Tongan community ahead of Uike Lea Faka-Tonga, and they have selected the theme Fakakoloa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Resurgence Support Payment amended to include new businesses
    The Government’s Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) has been updated to better support newly established businesses. The RSP is a one-off payment that helps businesses with costs like rent or fixed costs during higher alert levels. When this COVID-19 response scheme was first established last year the criteria was included that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago