Nutritional and environmental losses embedded in global food waste

Canxi Chena , Abhishek Chaudharyb,⁎ , Alexander Mathysa
Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Resource type:
Peer review

Reducing food waste can contribute positively towards multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) but the differences in the food waste across countries in terms of embedded nutrients and environmental impacts is not well-known. Here they assess the value of daily per capita food waste of 151 countries using two recent indicators for embedded nutrition losses (wasted nutrient days and wasted daily diets) and five indicators for environmental impacts.

Globally, on average, 65 kg of food is wasted per year by one person of which 25% is through wasted vegetables, 24% through cereals and 12% through fruits. Daily wasted amounts of vitamin C, K, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium are especially high representing 25-50% of their daily dietary recommended intake (DRI) value. Cereals, fruits and vegetables are the three major food groups contributing the most to wasted nutrients followed by meat, dairy and eggs that contribute substantially to the wasted calcium, choline, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamin B12. Global average amount of food waste per capita per year contains 18 healthy diets meaning it can fulfil the DRIs of 25 nutrients for one person for 18 days. The embedded environmental footprints in average person's daily food waste are: 124 g CO2 eq., 58 Litre freshwater use, 0.36 m2 cropland use, 2.90 g nitrogen and 0.48 g phosphorus use. Cereals, meat, and sugar are major food groups contributing to environmental impacts.

The authors results show that different countries have widely varying nutrients and environmental footprints embedded in their food waste entailing country-specific waste reduction interventions.


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This resource has been peer reviewed