Is mitigating food waste the key to the net zero recipe?

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Monday 13th December 2021

We know that the title was a bit of an excuse to make a food-related pun, but in actual fact, the sentiment isn’t so silly at all.

Less than a third of people in the UK are aware of the link between food waste and climate change – so, let’s get ourselves educated and nourished with all that glorious food that we shouldn’t be throwing in the bin.

Food Waste

It is estimated that about a third of all the food produced is wasted. That is a mind-blowing amount. To put this into context, this wastage could provide enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet.

Looking at it in another light, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Oddbox have named this country Wasteland, and are calling on us to #WipeOutWasteland.

Oddbox's Wasteland

Wasteland doesn’t only represent a humanitarian crisis, but also an environmental one. This shows that if made an unanimous effort to clamp down on food waste, the ecological benefit would be mammoth. Let’s break down the reasoning behind this.

Food Waste and the Environment

1. Resources not wasted: Farming is an energy-intensive business which produces harmful greenhouse gases. Think about all the water, energy, labor, machinery, transport and packaging required for your food to end up in the fridge. When you throw this in the bin, you also waste the associated resources. Furthermore, food waste indirectly contributes to climate change due the loss of carbon sinks, like forests and grasslands, to create land for crops and grazing. Fight food waste means these valuable resources aren’t wasted.

2. Food directed from landfill: More often than not, food waste ends up in a landfill site. Here, due to the lack of oxygen, the matter rots and releases methane. This potent gas is 80 times more powerful at warming the Earth than CO² over a 20-year period. Reducing food waste negates methane production, land clearing, leachates (toxic substance) production which in turn helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, habitat and biodiversity loss, and soil degradation. 

Food Waste and Net Zero

This movement (check out our COP26 blog) has taken the world by storm. It marks global recognition that something must be done, and QUICKLY. Various bodies, including countries, governments and businesses have set targets with deadlines to propel them towards more sustainable practices.

Food waste accounts for a mammoth 10% of the world’s total greenhouse gases. This shows that mitigating food waste is a key piece of the puzzle to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help us fight climate change.

SustainABLE Pathway

At Paper Round, a key focus of ours is to help businesses to reduce their food waste. Our SustainABLE Pathway white paper investigates the vital role that commercial waste and recycling plays in achieving real carbon reductions for businesses. It details our 10 commitments, which set out how we will achieve a low carbon, net zero future by 2030, and the way we can support other businesses to achieve their own carbon reduction objectives. To find out how we can help you, download our free white paper here.

All our services have sustainability at their heart and are perfectly suited to support food waste reduction. This includes various stream recycling services, such as mixed (or ‘Paper, cans and plastic containers’ as we like to call it), food, coffee grounds, coffee cups, cardboard and Vegware

Don't hesitate to make an enquiry here, or contact us on or 020 8038 3134 to start your carbon journey. 

Hattie Lindsey

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