Transforming Food Waste Reduction: Key Findings from the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024

In collaboration with WRAP, the UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024 presents a groundbreaking analysis, aiming to revolutionize global efforts in mitigating food waste across retail and consumer levels. The report sheds light on the staggering 1.05 billion tonnes of food waste generated annually, equating to 132kg per capita, highlighting the urgent need for action.

Household wastage emerges as a primary concern, constituting 60% of total food waste, followed by food services at 28% and retail at 12%. Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director, emphasizes the severity of this issue, stressing its adverse impacts on both development and the environment.

Since 2021, there has been commendable progress in data tracking, with a significant increase in studies monitoring food waste globally. However, the report underscores the disparity in tracking systems among low- and middle-income countries, hindering progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

Only a handful of nations, including Australia, Japan, UK, USA, and the European Union, possess suitable estimates for tracking progress towards 2030 goals. Surprisingly, the data reveals that food waste is not solely confined to affluent nations, with minimal discrepancies observed across different income brackets.

The economic toll of food loss and waste is staggering, estimated at £792.5 trillion globally. Urban areas stand to benefit substantially from enhanced waste reduction initiatives, while rural regions exhibit comparatively lower levels of waste, often attributed to practices such as composting and livestock feeding.

Despite progress, merely 21 countries have integrated food waste reduction into their national climate plans as of 2022. Harriet Lamb, CEO of WRAP, stresses the necessity for concerted action, urging greater participation from G20 nations to combat food waste effectively.

UNEP and WRAP advocate for systemic action through public-private partnerships (PPPs) to address bottlenecks and foster innovation. Proper financing is crucial in enabling PPPs to drive farm-to-fork reductions in food waste, thereby mitigating environmental degradation and promoting sustainable practices on a global scale.

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