Study claims reducing food waste is key to cutting emissions

New research suggests that reducing food waste would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A new study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal claims that reducing global food waste and changing consumer behaviour is key to reducing worldwide carbon emissions.

The article, titled ‘Food Surplus and its Climate Burdens’ was produced by a team of scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The study co-writer, professor Jurgen Kropp, said that agriculture and a “meat-rich diet” are two of the major causes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Food waste causes greenhouse gas emissions

A “meat-rich” diet and growing population are two factors causing food waste


According to the study, the growing global population (expected to reach nine billion by 2050) and the “calorie-rich” diet enjoyed in third-world countries were both resulting in excessive food waste and that this food waste represents 10 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced during agricultural processes.

Professor Kropp and his fellow researchers found that there was a correlation between global greenhouse gas emissions and the increase in “global food requirements from 2,300 to 2,400 [calories per person each day]” and an increase in food waste “from 310 to 510 [calories per person each day]”.

According to the research, during this same time period greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural and food processes rose to an equivalent of 530 million tonnes of CO2 per year from a previous annual production of 130 million tonnes.

The study also discussed future possibilities in relation to the “rapidly increasing” population in “emerging economies like China or India”, which forecasted yet more bad news for food waste and global greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Kropp commented: “Avoiding food loss could pose a leverage to various challenges at once, reducing environmental impacts of agriculture, saving resources used in food production, and enhance local, regional, and global food security.”

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