Let’s Green Our Plate I By Brendon Ren Jie Ban

by - October 16, 2020

credits to 
Della @della_aog
Caitlyn @claracaitlyn
Evelyn @_picturesandpoems_
Ching Theng @cchingtheng

    Globally, 1.4 billion hectares of land (28% of the world’s agricultural area) is used to produce food that is lost or wasted. If this land were a country, it would be the second largest (5.4 million square miles) in the world, behind only Russia (6.6 million square miles). According to Solid Waste Corporation Management (SWCorp), Malaysians generate 16,687.5 tonnes of food waste daily. The New Straits Times revealed that if all this goes into landfills, it can fill the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers to the brim in just a month or two. About half of the waste in landfills is organic waste, with plastic (14%), paper (15%), glass (3%), metal (4%), wood (4%), textile (3%), rubber (1%) and other materials (7%) forming the other half. 

Image Credit to Salaam Gateway 

    The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. SDG Target 12.3 seeks to halve global food waste at retail and consumer levels, as well as to reduce food loss during production and supply. In order to measure food waste and losses, two indices have been proposed: a Food Waste Index (FWI) and a Food Loss Index (FLI). The United Nations Development Programme revealed that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year, while almost 2 billion people go hungry or undernourished. The food sector accounts for around 22 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, largely from the conversion of forests into farmland. A large share of the world population is still consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs. Sustainable Development Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, contains a wide range of targets, one of which is closely related to this article. 

    A substantial amount of money is wasted producing food that is never used. Additionally, one must consider the economic impacts of food waste pertaining to costs of disposal, labor, and the degradation of our soil, waterways, and air. It is nearly impossible to estimate the potential economic benefits from redirecting these resources, but the situation carries considerable gravity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently estimated annual losses of $1 trillion from resource costs. The reality, however, is that food is still ending up in Malaysia's landfills and space is running out. As of 2018, Malaysia has 170 waste disposal sites and only 14 had "sanitary landfill" status

    In addition to squandered economics, there is the externality of environmental impact, both from resource overuse like water scarcity and soil erosion and from pollution. 95% of food waste goes to landfills, which produce methane, the leading culprit in climate change. The FAO estimates the environmental cost of food waste at $700 billion per year, which was calculated by quantifying carbon, land, and water costs and potential savings, along with the semi-quantifiable cost factor of biodiversity. 

    The price of food is significantly raised by the lost consumer surplus arising from our food waste. As food costs account for a greater percentage of their profits, this loss has a comparatively greater effect on poorer individuals. For lower-income individuals, higher costs and lower supplies of food inevitably cause nutritional deficiencies. In turn, this can lead to externalities such as higher costs of healthcare and loss of productivity from people weakened by nutritional deprivation and food insecurity. 

Ways to Reduce Wasted Food. 

● Don’t over buy. Keep track of what you’ve bought and used. Taking a ‘shelfie’ – a photo of your fridge and cupboards to remind you of what’s there.
Check the use-by dates of fresh food when you buy it. These are the dates to take notice of, rather than the best-before dates. Only buy what you can use before it expires.
Plan ahead. Think about what you’re going to cook and how you’ll use the leftovers. Get to know your grocer. They will have plenty of advice on how to use up leftover veg.
Love your freezer. Use your weekends to batch-cook and freeze.

Image Credits to myPOS 

This article was written in conjunction with the United Nations’ World Food Day (October 16). World Food Day 2020 is an exceptional event that marks FAO’s 75th anniversary, with nations worldwide addressing the broad impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 global health crisis has been a time to reflect on things we truly cherish and our most basic needs. These uncertain times have made many of us rekindle our appreciation for a thing that some of us take it for granted and many go without: food. Countries, private sector and civil society need to make sure that our food systems grow a variety of food to nourish a growing population and sustain the planet, together. We all have a role to play, from increasing the overall demand for nutritious food by choosing healthy, to not letting sustainable habits fall by the wayside, despite these uncertain times. 

Let’s ensure that 
“By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.” - United Nations

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