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Why is food waste a problem?

Food waste is a major problem from an environmental point of view and has a major impact on our climate. Thrown food accounts for 6% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions and if food waste were a country, it would rank third behind the US and China in terms of greenhouse gas production (Ritchie & Roser 2020). But that may not answer the question of HOW it affects our climate.

Food that is thrown away affects the climate in two different ways

Release of methane gas: As food rots and breaks down, harmful gases are released that are 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in terms of trapping heat in the atmosphere (EPA).

Waste of resources: We use huge amounts of water when we produce food. Agriculture accounts for 70% of the water used worldwide. If we throw away 1 kg of beef, we waste 50,000 liters of water used to produce the meat (Ritchie & Roser 2020).

The ethical aspect of throwing away food

Food waste occurs in all parts of the world, poor countries as well as rich ones. At the same time, we can state that 1 in 9 people are malnourished (UN). So we throw away food while people are starving. It is a fundamental injustice that so much food is thrown away while so many cannot afford to eat. Throwing away food is deeply unethical and a symbol of much of the environmental destruction that is widespread in society.

At the same time, it is difficult to completely avoid food waste; both as a private person, shop owner, and restaurateur. Again, we want to emphasize awareness as the key - If we are aware and can admit that we are throwing food away, change is within reach.

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