Minimizing food waste

One-third of all food produced in the world - approximately 1.3 billion tonnes - is lost or wasted every year. Food waste is responsible for over 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), making it a key challenge in tackling climate change.

In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that more than 30 per cent, at a cost of $161 billion, of edible food goes to waste, leading to significant environmental, social and economic costs. Environmentally, food waste contributes to the largest volume of material in U.S. landfills accounting for 21% of the waste stream.

In Canada, food waste costs Canadians over $30 billion annually or two per cent of Canada's total GDP, If the number included food waste produced by federal institutions along with the true cost of elements such as energy, water, land, labour, capital investment, infrastructure, machinery and transport, the real cost could be up to three times that much.

The new Sustainable Development Goals include Target 12.3 which is intended to halve food loss and waste by 2030. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the U.S. commitment to meet this goal. UN Environment is a partner in Champions 12.3, a new voluntary and inclusive partnership dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving this goal.

The Think.Eat.Save campaign, in partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), is a public awareness-raising and engagement campaign to mobilize global action against the environmental, economic and social impacts of food waste. In 2014, UN Environment, and its partners launched the Think. Eat. Save. Guidance to assist businesses, local authorities, and governments in the design of effective food waste prevention programs.

UN Environment, in parternship with leading organizations, launched the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard, the first-ever set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste. The standard comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other entities are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.

To bring attention to this issue and inspire solutions, the UN Environment in collaboration with Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), launched “Make #NotWasting Food A Way of Life” video contest. The competition was open to the general public in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and invited participants to demonstrate innovative and impactful food waste reduction initiatives by making short videos. An esteemed panel of judges evaluated the video submissions and selected a winner from each country. The winners presented their videos at the inaugural North American Workshop on Food Waste Reduction and Recovery in Toronto, Canada.

Winning submissions:

Further Resources: