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Frightening Facts on Food Waste

28 June 2019

Sharon Colgan, Programme Marketing Manager, Origin Green, Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board



Let’s talk about global food waste:


More than 1/3 of all food is wasted.  That’s 1.3 billion tonnes every year according to The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).  If food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China causing 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions a year.


It’s not just the food itself that goes to waste, it’s all the resources that went into making it, from water to land and labour. Food waste is a massive problem affecting people, planet and profit:  almost 870 million people in the world go hungry every day, food waste contributes 8% of the world Green House Gas Emissions and the estimated global cost is €1.2 trillion of profit is lost every year.


According to the Stop Food Waste website we generate at least 1 million tonnes of food waste each year here in Ireland. Most of us are unaware of where the food we waste actually ends up, so we don’t fully understand the direct and indirect consequence. The worst case is that food waste is collected and then either disposed of in landfill or incinerated. Less than half is recycled into biogas and compost, or reused for animal feed within the EU.


Food waste is a complex issue with many actors along the in the value chain in Europe.  According to a Mervin de Groot of the food waste movement Too Good To Go speaking at a recent Food Sustainability Forum: “23% of food waste volume happens at production level, 12% at storage and handling, 5% at processing level, 9% at distribution and market level and a whopping 52% of food waste volume occurs at consumption level.”


To tackle waste in our food supply chain, the EPA will host The Third National Forum on Food Waste in Dublin on 10 July 2019. The Forum will bring together delegates from businesses along the supply chain to provide insights on the issues and challenges in relation to food loss and waste in Ireland, presenting key findings from a new study on commercial food waste in Ireland. National and international perspectives on food waste will also be presented, including updates on upcoming EU legislation to measure and report on food waste in the supply chain along with new opportunities to work collaboratively to reduce food waste. You can register to attend here.


Stop Food Waste’s campaign Working to Reduce Food Waste, highlights that over 20,000 tonnes of food waste from offices are ending up in the municipal waste stream in Ireland each year. Citing this as a “big national issue and, because food waste doesn’t stop when we walk out the front door of home” they are hoping to encourage businesses and employees to think about how they can reduce their food waste when at work.  They offer resources and training workshops on their website.


All Origin Green members should try and get involved in the EPA activities. They will provide ideas as to how you could achieve your food waste reduction targets.