Non eaten food is world’s third largest greenhouse gas producer
The carbon footprint of worldwide food losses and food waste amounts
to the equivalent of 3.3 giga tons of CO2 emissions. Compared to the
CO? emissions of individual countries this volume ranks third among
the world?s biggest greenhouse gas emitters after China and the
USA. What this means in concrete terms is that the greenhouse gas
associated with the production, diagnosis processing, cheap transport and storage of all
non-consumed food corresponds to roughly half of what both China and
the USA emit into the atmosphere each year. For Germany this figure
stands at approximately one giga ton, site i.e. less than one third of all
global emissions caused by food loss and waste. 3.3 giga tons ? or 3.3
billion tons in other words ? are an enormous amount. By comparison:
the greenhouse gas emissions associated with road traffic in all of the
USA totalled 1.5 giga tons in 2010.
Broken down into food categories, cereals (at 34%) account for the
biggest share in greenhouse gas emissions caused by food loss and
waste, followed by meat and vegetables at 21% each. At only 5% the
percentage of meat in the total amount of food loss is far lower than that
of cereals (25%) and vegetables (below 25%). This means meat has a
clearly bigger carbon-footprint because it causes in excess of one fifth
of greenhouse gas emissions.3 In Germany the situation is quite similar.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, meat accounts for almost half
the carbon footprint in the food value chain ? while only accounting for
about 10% of total food waste volume.
The main reasons for meat?s very large carbon footprint lie in the high
levels of energy and resources needed to grow feed, in the machinery
used for raising and transporting livestock, in refrigeration ? and last but
not least in the substantial CO2-emissions of ruminants. This is also why
cattle raising is considered particularly greenhouse-gas intensive.
Losses and carbon footprints also vary across the various stages in the
value chain. The highest losses occur in production whereas carbon
footprint is at its largest in the consumption stage5 ? also due to the
energy required for storage and cooking in private households,
restaurants, canteens and the like.
Greenhouse gas emitted in food manufacturing, transport and storage
puts a burden on the environment. But if this food then even perishes or
is disposed of, these pollutants have been emitted to the atmosphere
without any benefit. Minimising waste and loss is therefore
indispensable for these reasons alone. Add to this the fact that one in
eight human beings on earth suffer from hunger while one third of all
produced foodstuffs are not consumed.
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