Greenhouse gases resulting from rotted and otherwise wasted food accounts for around half of all global food system emissions, according to a new study.
Around one-third of all food produced is either lost or wasted each year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to halve global food waste and reduce food losses in production and supply by 2030.
The study assesses the emissions of food loss and waste along every link in the supply chain—from the time the food is harvested to when it ends up in landfill or compost. It finds that, in 2017, global food waste resulted in 9.3bn tonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2e) emissions—roughly the same as the total combined emissions of the US and the EU that same year. Alongside the carbon emissions, this is occurring at a time when more than 800 million people were impacted by hunger in 2021, according to the UN.