Food Waste: The Growing Concern & Local Solutions to a Global Issue

With one-third of all food produced for human consumption being wasted each year, it's clear that action needs to be taken. Not only does food waste have negative environmental impacts, but it also has social and economic consequences. So, what can be done about it?

food waste on a wooden tray

Let's start by answering the question – what is “Food Waste?”. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) states –

“Food waste refers to the discard of edible foods at the retail and consumer levels, mostly in developed countries*.”

This can be any edible product or by-product that is intended for human consumption but is discarded or expired; this can come from a wide variety of sources, such as:

  • Prepared, perfectly edible food that has not been eaten.
  • Unsold food from local markets or other retail outlets such as produce food.
  • Plate waste from restaurants.
  • Trimmings like food scraps from food preparation in restaurants, cafeterias, or homes; and by-products of food and beverage processing.
  • By-products of industrial food/beverage processing.

What is the impact of food waste?

Food waste causes substantial global economic, social and, of course, environmental ramifications.

Looking at the economics; it’s estimated that food waste costs the global economy $936 billion each year*. Socially, the majority of wastage occurs in developed countries where the impact is less noticeable with approximately 25% of all available food calories lost due to global food waste; heavily impacting developing and low-income countries where billions of people struggle to access enough food*.

It is estimated that around one-third (1.6 billion tons) of all produced food is lost or wasted globally each year*.

Though, the most damaging effects are most prominent through the enormous environmental consequences. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Food Waste Index 2021, food waste accounts for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions*, a consequence of the damaging effects provided by landfill. Unfortunately, without efficient disposal methods, a large percentage of food waste will find its way into landfill. In landfills, food of course rots and, one of the major by-products of rotting food in landfills is the production of methane – a harmful greenhouse gas that's 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and heats the atmosphere 80 times faster.*

food waste on a wooden tray

What is being done?

One of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is to halve global food waste and reduce food losses in production and supply by 2030*. It aims to do this through cooperation and global partnerships between multiple agencies and across a broad range of areas*.

The European Union is introducing the Farm2Fork strategy aimed at making food production and consumption more sustainable. They plan to do this by proposing legally binding targets to reduce food waste across EU countries and integrating food waste prevention directives into existing EU policy with the intention of reducing per capita food waste by 50% by 2030.

Meanwhile, businesses, governing bodies, non-governmental organisations, and consumers all have roles to play in combating food loss and waste and mitigating their far-reaching effects. But how?

As consumers, small changes to a lifestyle can go a long way. We can be more considerate about the amount of food we choose to buy to avoid wasting it; by writing a shopping list beforehand for the exact things required. We can also recycle more of the trimmings from food waste into compost like in South Korea where, since 2013, a mandatory composting scheme has been in operation meaning all food waste must be separated from general waste*.

On the other hand, businesses, governing bodies and NGOs can perform various tasks to ensure their organisation and workforce make food recycling a priority. Creating food hubs solely designated to the supply and consumption of food, educate employees on common practices to encourage recycling food waste and of course, implementing dedicated Food Waste Trash Cans.

The Benefits

As mentioned, collecting food waste, of course, prevents it from entering landfill and therefore negates the harmful environmental impacts caused. But that's not the only benefit, there are many other advantages to implementing a food waste recycling scheme.

  • 1. Saves Money – For businesses, as with any form of waste; limiting the amount produced and sent to landfill can sometimes mean less landfill taxes.*

  • 2. Reduce Carbon Footprint – Yet again, limiting the amount of waste sent to landfill means minimising the amount of potentially harmful methane being released. This is a huge incentive for businesses, governments and NGO’s alike in efforts to meet Net-Zero targets and cut greenhouse gas emissions.*

  • 3. Boosts Reputation – A great way for businesses to appeal to more clients, leverage more opportunities and even attract new employees.

This is where we fit in...

Glasdon has solutions for collecting food waste in almost any size, for any environment, internally and externally. Our purposely designed catering & food waste containers are designed for multiple areas of the food industry; from commercial restaurants to food courts but can be effortlessly introduced to any working environment to capture food waste solely and effectively.

Hand opening the Nexus 30 Food Waste Recycling Bin with green flip lid

Glasdon Food Waste Containers

Notable Design Features –

  • Aperture flaps to lock in and contain odours.
  • Lid-operated foot pedals to improve hygienic disposal.
  • Large apertures to guide waste.
  • Recognisable decals to make them easily identifiable.
  • Durable materials to ensure long service life.

Our products can be used in a variety of environments – products such as Nexus® Shuttle are ideal for food preparation areas like kitchens, Nexus® Evolution can be fitted with a food waste partition to segment waste streams for areas like cafeterias, and products like the Nexus® City Wheelie Bin Housings can be used as larger food waste collection points.

Nexus shuttle and Nexus city 240 food waste

If you require any further information to help you or your business effectively combat the issue of food waste, please read our FAQ on How to Improve Food Waste Recycling.

If you would like to learn more about how Glasdon can help with your waste management scheme, please talk to us today.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
The Green Web Foundation
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