3 years ago

Wasting Food, Wasting Resources: Potential Environmental Savings Through Food Waste Reductions

Arkaitz Usubiaga, Philipp Schepelmann, Isabela Butnar
Food is needed to maintain our physical integrity and therefore meets a most basic human need. The food sector got in the focus of environmental policy, because of its environmental implications and its inefficiency in terms of the amount of food lost along the value chain. The European Commission (EC) flagged the food waste issue a few years ago and adopted since then a series of policies that partially address the problem. Among these, the Resource Efficiency Roadmap set the aspirational goal of reducing the resource inputs in the food chain by 20% and halving the disposal of edible food waste by 2020. Focusing on consumer food waste, we tested what a reduction following the Roadmap's food waste target would imply for four environmental categories in EU28 (European Union 28 Member States): greenhouse gas emissions, land use, blue water consumption, and material use. Compared to the 2011 levels, reaching the target would lead to 2% to 7% reductions of the total footprint depending on the environmental category. This equals a 10% to 11% decrease in inputs in the food value chain (i.e., around half of the resource use reductions targeted). The vast majority of potential gains are related to households, rather than the food-related services. Most likely, the 2020 target will not be met, since there is insufficient action both at Member State and European levels. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a new milestone for reducing edible food waste, but Europe needs to rise up to the challenge of decreasing its per capita food waste generation by 50% by 2030.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12695

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