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Cutting Food Waste in Half Could Reduce CO2 Emissions by 8% in Europe

Cutting Food Waste in Half Could Reduce CO2 Emissions by 8% in Europe food waste, Policy Food and Beverage Business

A reduction in food waste holds significant potential for Europe, with fresh research pointing towards significant environmental benefits. According to researchers from Aalborg University and the University of Copenhagen, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture, halving food waste along the continent’s food supply chains could result in a 8% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions caused by food consumption. In addition to that, it will also reduce agricultural and grazing areas by 6% and 12%, respectively, while cutting water consumption and energy embodied in food production by 7% and 14%, respectively.

The study also discovered that wealth does not necessarily correlate with higher environmental savings. Countries with a lower per capita GDP, such as Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, demonstrated significant per capita savings potential. The findings have prompted Marianne Thomsen, the lead researcher and a professor of sustainable food systems at the University of Copenhagen, to call for investment in solutions to reduce food loss and waste at all stages of the food supply chain.

“Halving Europe’s food loss and waste, together with a redistribution of global food resources, could solve the challenges of food shortages in the world,” said Thomsen.

Companies can play a significant role by promoting upcycled raw materials and encouraging reduced consumption among consumers to advance food waste reduction. Setting the stage for this, Thomsen stated, “The companies can collaborate on sustainable innovation in circular symbioses where side streams are utilized for producing upcycled ingredients and products. As another example, the service industry can apply upcycled ingredients produced from surplus food in the wholesale sector, while at the same time nudge costumers to take smaller portions by reducing the plate size.”

To further improve food loss and waste reduction efforts, Thomsen suggested that monitoring and reporting of food loss and waste by all actors along the food supply chain would be an important step in the right direction.

“Such a policy instrument may, supported by other types of policy instruments, be a strong incentive for companies and the rest of society to invest time and money in new technology and collaboration to prevent food loss and waste by closing the loop along the food supply chains within local circular food systems,” she said.

Efforts to reduce food waste are already underway in Europe. The Commission has proposed legislation that would reduce food waste in process and manufacturing by 10% and at retail and consumption levels by 30% by 2030. The EU has also committed to UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3: to halve global food waste across the entire food supply chain by 2030. With these steps and strategic interventions from the food and beverage industry, progress can be made toward eliminating food shortages and reducing environmental impacts.

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