1. Home
  2. Blog

International Day of Zero Waste: Insights from the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024

Published ahead of the International Day of Zero Waste, the UNEP Food Waste Index Report serves as a clarion call for concerted global action to address the scourge of food waste.

Shivam Dwivedi
International Day of Zero Waste: Insights from the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024 (Photo Source: @UNEP)
International Day of Zero Waste: Insights from the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024 (Photo Source: @UNEP)

In a powerful wake-up call to the world, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) recently released its Food Waste Index Report 2024, revealing the shocking scale of food waste amidst widespread hunger. Picture this: every day, a staggering one billion meals are thrown away, while one-third of our global population struggles to put food on the table. It's a heartbreaking reality check that demands our attention. Let's take a closer look at what this report reveals and what it means for all of us.

Magnitude of Food Waste

The report highlights that a staggering 1.05 billion tonnes of food were wasted in 2022, perpetuating a global tragedy with multifaceted ramifications. The loss spans various stages of the food supply chain, from production to retail and household consumption. Approximately 19 per cent of available food for consumers is lost across retail, food service, and household levels, while an additional 13 per cent is lost in the supply chain, according to estimations by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Household Contribution to Food Waste

Significantly, the majority of food waste, totaling 631 million tonnes, emanates from households, constituting up to 60 per cent of the total squandered food. Meanwhile, the food service and retail sectors contribute 290 and 131 million tonnes, respectively, to this alarming figure.

Global Per Capita Waste

On an individual level, the report underscores that each person wastes an average of 79 kilograms of food annually, translating to 1.3 meals per day for those affected by hunger worldwide. Moreover, the issue of food waste transcends economic boundaries, with minimal divergence observed in average levels of household food waste between high-income, upper-middle-income, and lower-middle-income countries.

Urban-Rural Disparity and Climate Implications

While economic status plays a role in food waste, the report reveals a more significant variance between urban and rural populations. Middle-income countries exhibit lower levels of food waste in rural areas, potentially attributable to practices such as recycling food scraps for animal feed and home composting. Furthermore, the report underscores a direct correlation between average temperatures and food waste levels, with hotter countries exhibiting higher per capita food waste, exacerbated by climate change-induced factors such as extreme heat events and droughts.

Reducing Food Waste: Path Forward

Recognizing the urgent need for action, the report emphasizes the imperative of reducing food waste to mitigate its adverse environmental and social impacts. Public-private partnerships are identified as a promising avenue for effecting change, with examples from countries like Japan and the UK demonstrating substantial reductions in food waste through concerted efforts. Moreover, the report underscores the importance of aligning initiatives with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which aims to halve food waste by 2030.

International No Diet Day 2024 Quiz Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters