Even the most environmentally friendly person is not absolved from the ‘sin’ of wasting food – a significant contribution to the amount of waste generated all around the world and in the island city of Singapore.
Having explored a little into general waste generation in Singapore and how it is dealt with, we will now take a closer look at food wastage, an issue we are deeply concerned about.
Food Wastage Around the World
The truth of the matter is, that over 7million tonnes of food and drinks are thrown away each year. And the number is not going down. To put things into perspective, let’s measure this against a common yardstick for size: this average of 7million tonnes of wasted food would have filled NINE Wembley Stadiums.
That’s a Wembley Stadium with a maximum fill capacity of 105,000 people at any given time. And we hope that has gotten your attention. It is also estimated that 4.4million tonnes of food that was wasted could still have been consumed. Imagine the number of homeless and/or starving people that could have fed.
And the other 2.6million tonnes of food were thrown away simply because they were not ‘used in time’.
Food Wastage in Singapore
In some of the statistics we’ve mentioned in our previous article (Waste: The Dirty Truth), food waste makes up one of the top five components of the general waste composition. That means that amongst all the many things that we are throwing away, Singaporeans are throwing away a lot, and we mean A LOT, of food.
It was also recently published that the amount of food waste in Singapore has hit a record high in the last year, with a spiked growth of 26% from the previous years.
What is concerning is that while food waste may have been the top 5 composition of general waste in Singapore, it is the second most disposed waste after plastics – and the recycling rate of food has remained disturbingly low over the years.
Processing and Packaging: Also Guilty
Despite what most people think, packaging also plays a crucial role in the staggering output of food waste. Yes, that means that food wastage is happening even before it reaches consumers.
For fresh produce alone, 12-25% of food loss happens during the pre-harvest and harvesting phases. Even after harvesting, food is wasted in the quest to maintain a standard for aesthetically pleasing produce. Consumers buy with their eyes, and this mentality is common knowledge.
Globally, it is estimated that one-third of all fresh fruit and vegetables produced is lost before it reaches consumers. And another one-third of what consumers purchase is also wasted due to excessive buying, poor storage, expiration and simply the leftovers.
Our Role as Consumers
As consumers, while we cannot stop the food wastage that is happening before it reaches us, we can definitely help in other ways. Consumers who wish to take a stand against food wastage can also start by supporting organic farms that do not throw produce away simply because they do not look aesthetically pleasing. Organic farms are more concerned about the nutritional value in your food over how the produce looks.
We can also cut down on food wastage by ensuring that no food is wasted during the process of cooking, and cooking just enough to ensure that there are no leftovers.
Keep a lookout for our next article where we will explore more options on how not to waste food!
Information from 1010global and zerowastesg. Images from treehugger.com and wembleystadium.com