Discover more from Better Bioeconomy
How Food Upcycling Can Combat Environmental Degradation and Food Insecurity
Food waste makes up roughly 8–10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly on par with emissions from worldwide road transportation.
The environmental, social and economic impact of food waste
Food waste is a pressing issue that carries severe environmental repercussions. Around one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste, which adds up to roughly 1.3 billion tons annually, costing a staggering US$1 trillion.
In the United States, a shocking 40% of food is lost or wasted each year, resulting in an estimated $218 billion in losses or 1.3% of GDP. This waste not only depletes precious resources like water, energy, and land, but it also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
When food scraps are disposed of in landfills, they break down and emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that can be up to 28–36 times more detrimental to the environment than carbon dioxide.
This is because bacteria decompose landfill waste, producing methane as a byproduct. Methane is even more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Food waste makes up roughly 8–10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly on par with emissions from worldwide road transportation. On top of that, the process of producing, transporting, and disposing of unconsumed food uses up considerable amounts of resources like water and energy, further exacerbating its environmental impact.
Food waste is not just an environmental issue; it holds crucial social and economic implications as well. The resources utilized in the production and distribution of food that ultimately goes to waste could have been utilized to feed those who are in need. According to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, nearly 690 million people worldwide suffer from hunger.
Alongside its ethical and communal impacts, food waste bears economic repercussions. Discarding food equates to a considerable squandering of resources and funds for households, corporations, and governments alike. In the United States solely, it’s projected that $218 billion is exhausted annually on cultivating, handling, shipping, and discarding food that ultimately goes to waste.
How food upcycling can help
Upcycling food involves converting food that would typically be discarded into fresh, consumable items. This approach employs scraps and remnants to decrease the quantity of refuse deposited in landfills. Not only does it reduce contamination, but it also conserves room in landfills that are already stretched thin.
Food upcycling offers the crucial advantage of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Disposing of food waste in landfills contributes to the generation of methane, which is more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. By practicing food upcycling, we can decrease the volume of waste that is dumped in landfills, leading to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Apart from reducing waste and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, food upcycling also holds the potential for economic gains. Through reusing food scraps and remnants, businesses can invent new products and earn revenue from what would have been considered trash otherwise.
5 creative food upcycling examples
To combat food waste we can employ food upcycling techniques that convert food scraps into delicious and nutritious meals.
Peel the tough outer covering from broccoli stalks and purée the remaining tender stalks to create a tasty hummus from these often wasted stalks.
You can make a rich and savoury stock by simmering vegetable scraps like onion skins, carrot tops, and celery leaves in water. This stock is great for enriching soups and stews.
Fruit peels can be transformed into a scrumptious snack by baking them in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar until they become crispy and golden brown.
Stale bread can be turned into a delectable bread pudding with simple ingredients like milk, eggs, sugar, and spices.
Leftover smoothies can be used to make popsicles, a healthy and refreshing treat for hot summer days. By using these creative recipes, individuals can reduce food waste and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Bonus step: Reduce food waste. Here are 11 ways: