Food Waste Set to Increase by 33 Percent Within 10 Years
1.6 billion tons of food worth around $1.2 trillion are lost or wasted every year, the study found, and the problem is only getting worse. By 2030, food waste will increase to 2.1 billion tons, worth around $1.5 trillion, BCG estimated.
That's an increase of one third in little over ten years and equivalent to 66 tons thrown away per second, according to calculations by The Guardian.
"The scale of the problem is one that will continue to grow while we're developing our solutions," BCG partner and managing director Shalini Unnikrishnan told The Guardian. "As population grows rapidly in certain industrialising parts of the world, like in Asia, consumption is growing very rapidly."
Confronting the problem is important both for fighting world hunger and climate change, the report said. Food waste makes up eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Resources Institute. And around 870 million people around the world are malnourished.
The report found that food waste most often happens in developing countries during the production of food, when it is being transported from farms. In developed countries, most waste occurs during the consumption stage, where it is wasted by both retailers and consumers.
But the BCG outlined 13 initiatives that companies could take to make headway towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals target of halving food waste by 2030:
1. Help educate farmers to reduce food loss from pests, diseases and weeds.
2. Change packaging and promotions to reduce waste, such as UK supermarket Tesco's Buy One Get One Free-Later promotion that allows customers to pick up free food when they will actually be able to eat it in time.
3. Training employees to better manage food inventory to reduce waste.
4. Adding information to packaging that informs customers about the importance of recycling or reusing food.
5. Improving "cold chain" infrastructure that allows food to be stored in temperature-controlled environments throughout the process from farm to table.
7. Changing how unsaleable food is handled so it can still be used either as a donation or as a material for cosmetics, biofuels or animal food.
8. Increasing local sourcing of food and ingredients.
9. Setting goals for reducing food waste and tracking performance against them.
10. Increasing private and public collaboration to assess how much consumers and retailers are likely to need a given food item.
11. Writing contracts to reduce food waste, such as making sure contracts between retailers and farmers don't encourage overproduction.
12. Encouraging the standardization of food sell-by dates that often confuse customers.
13. Encouraging laws that make donating food easier and discarding food more costly.
BCG estimates that these initiatives will also be good for the businesses that adopt them. Overall, they would reduce food waste by $700 billion a year.
You Can Fight Food Waste With These 4 Apps https://t.co/FZCOE1bYF8 @WholeFoods @WholeFoods @TrueFoodNow— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1517712305.0
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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