Wasting Food, Wasting Resources: Potential Environmental Savings Through Food Waste Reductions

11 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2018

See all articles by Arkaitz Usubiaga

Arkaitz Usubiaga

University College London - UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Isabela Butnar

University College London - UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Philipp Schepelmann

Science Centre North Rhine-Westphalia - Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

Food is needed to maintain our physical integrity and therefore meets a most basic human need. The food sector got in the focus of environmental policy, because of its environmental implications and its inefficiency in terms of the amount of food lost along the value chain. The European Commission (EC) flagged the food waste issue a few years ago and adopted since then a series of policies that partially address the problem. Among these, the Resource Efficiency Roadmap set the aspirational goal of reducing the resource inputs in the food chain by 20% and halving the disposal of edible food waste by 2020. Focusing on consumer food waste, we tested what a reduction following the Roadmap's food waste target would imply for four environmental categories in EU28 (European Union 28 Member States): greenhouse gas emissions, land use, blue water consumption, and material use. Compared to the 2011 levels, reaching the target would lead to 2% to 7% reductions of the total footprint depending on the environmental category. This equals a 10% to 11% decrease in inputs in the food value chain (i.e., around half of the resource use reductions targeted). The vast majority of potential gains are related to households, rather than the food‐related services. Most likely, the 2020 target will not be met, since there is insufficient action both at Member State and European levels. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a new milestone for reducing edible food waste, but Europe needs to rise up to the challenge of decreasing its per capita food waste generation by 50% by 2030.

Keywords: environmental foodprint, environmentally extended input‐output analysis, food waste, industrial ecology, multiregional input‐output

Suggested Citation

Usubiaga, Arkaitz and Butnar, Isabela and Schepelmann, Philipp, Wasting Food, Wasting Resources: Potential Environmental Savings Through Food Waste Reductions (June 2018). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 22, Issue 3, pp. 574-584, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189134 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12695

Arkaitz Usubiaga (Contact Author)

University College London - UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Isabela Butnar

University College London - UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Philipp Schepelmann

Science Centre North Rhine-Westphalia - Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy ( email )

Döppersberg 19
Wuppertal, D-45886
Germany

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