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Impacts on natural resourcesFood wastage footprint

About this document

The Food Wastage Footprint model (FWF) is a project of the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department. Phase I of theproject has been commissioned to BIO-Intelligence Service, France. This Summary Report presents the preliminary results of the FWF modeling,as related to the impacts of food loss and waste on climate, land, water and biodiversity. The full technical report of the FWF model is availableupon request from FAO. Phase II of the FWF project is expanding the model to include modules on full-cost accounting of environmental andsocial externalities of food wastage, with also comparison with food wastage reduction investment costs and footprint scenarios for 2050.

Acknowledgements

Phase I of the FWF was implemented by BIO-IS staff including: Olivier Jan, Clment Tostivint, Anne Turb, Clmentine OConnor and PerrineLavelle. This project benefited from the contributions of many FAO experts, including: Alessandro Flammini, Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, JippeHoogeveen, Mathilde Iweins, Francesco Tubiello, Livia Peiser and Caterina Batello. This FWF project is undertaken with the generous financialsupport of Germany.

Queries regarding the FWF project must be addressed to: [email protected]

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoeveron the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal or development status of any country,territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies orproducts of manufacturers, whether or not these have been patented, does not imply that these have been endorsed or recommended by FAOin preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.The views expressed in this information product are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of FAO.

ISBN 978-92-5-107752-8

FAO 2013

FAO encourages the use, reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product. Except where otherwise indicated, materialmay be copied, downloaded and printed for private study, research and teaching purposes, or for use in non-commercial products or services,provided that appropriate acknowledgement of FAO as the source and copyright holder is given and that FAOs endorsement of users views,products or services is not implied in any way.All requests for translation and adaptation rights, and for resale and other commercial use rights should be made via www.fao.org/contact-us/licence-request or addressed to [email protected] information products are available on the FAO website (www.fao.org/publications) and can be purchased through [email protected]

Impacts on natural resourcesFood wastage footprint

Executive summary 6Introduction 8Context and definitions 8Scope and methodology 9Food wastage volumes 11Carbon footprint 16Water footprint 26Land use 36Biodiversity 47Economic assessment 55Cross-analysis and key findings 57Potential improvement areas 59References 60

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Figure 1: Sources of food wastage and sources of environmental impacts in the food life cycle 10Figure 2: Total agricultural production (FBS) vs. food wastage volumes 12Figure 3: Food wastage volumes, at world level by phase of the food supply chain 13Figure 4: Relative food wastage, by region and by phase of the food supply chain 13Figure 5: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for food wastage 15Figure 6: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for food wastage volumes per capita 16Figure 7: Top 20 of GHG emitting countries vs. food wastage 17Figure 8: Contribution of each commodity to food wastage and carbon footprint 18Figure 9: Contribution of each region to food wastage and carbon footprint 20Figure 10: Contribution of each phase of the food supply chain to food wastage and carbon footprint 21Figure 11: Carbon footprint of food wastage, by phase of the food supply chain with respective contribution

of embedded life-cycle phases 21Figure 12: Carbon footprint of food wastage, by region and by commodity 23Figure 13: Carbon footprint of food wastage, by region per capita results 24Figure 14: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for carbon footprint presented along with contribution

to food wastage volume 24Figure 15: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for carbon footprint per capita 26Figure 16: Top 10 of national blue water footprint accounts for consumption of agricultural

products vs. food wastage 28Figure 17: Contribution of each commodity to food wastage and blue water footprint 29Figure 18: Contribution of each region to food wastage and blue water footprint 30Figure 19: Blue water footprint of food wastage, by region and by commodity 31Figure 20: Blue water footprint of food wastage, by region per capita results 32Figure 21: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for blue water footprint presented along with contribution

to food wastage volume 33Figure 22: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for blue water footprint per capita 35Figure 23: Food wastage vs. surfaces of river basins with high/very high water scarcity 35Figure 24: Top 20 of worlds biggest countries vs. food wastage 37Figure 25: Contribution of each commodity to food wastage and land occupation 38Figure 26: Land occupation of food wastage, at world level by commodity arable land vs. non-arable land 39

Figure 27: Contribution of each region to food wastage and land occupation 40Figure 28: Land occupation of food wastage, at world level by region Arable land vs. non-arable land 41Figure 29: Land occupation of food wastage, by region and by commodity 43Figure 30: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for arable land occupation presented along with contribution

to food wastage volume 44Figure 31: Top 5 of region*commodity pairs for non-arable land occupation presented along with contribution

to food wastage volume 45Figure 32: Top 10 of region*commodity pairs for land occupation per capita 45Figure 33: Repartition of food wastage at agricultural production stage, by class of land degradation 46Figure 34: Maximum area of forest converted to agriculture from 1990 to 2010,

in regions where deforestation occurred 49Figure 35: Percentage of Red List species of Birds, Mammals and Amphibians that are threatened

by agriculture (both crops and livestock) 50Figure 36: Percentage of Red List species of Birds, Mammals and Amphibians that are threatened

by crop production and livestock farming 51Figure 37: Average change in mean trophic level since 1950 in selected Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs)

of Europe, NA&Oce and Ind. Asia 53Figure 38: Average change in mean trophic level since 1950 in selected Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs)

of SSA, NA, WA&CA, S&SE Asia and LA 54Figure 39: Contribution of each commodity to food wastage and economic cost 56Figure 40: Contribution of each region to food wastage and economic cost 56

List of Tables

Table 1: World regions selected for the FWF project 9Table 2: Agricultural commodity groups selected for the FWF project 9Table 3: Cross-analysis of all environmental components, by Region*Commodity pairs 57

Executive summary

FAO estimates that each year, approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption inthe world is lost or wasted. This food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global foodsecurity, but also to mitigate environmental impacts and resources use from food chains. Although thereis today a wide recognition of the major environmental implications of food production, no study hasyet analysed the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective.

This FAO study provides a global account of the environmental footprint of food wastage (i.e. both foodloss and food waste) along the food supply chain, focusing on impacts on climate, water, land and bio-diversity. A model has been developed to answer two key questions: what is the magnitude of foodwastage impacts on the environment; and what are the main sources of these impacts, in terms of re-gions, commodities, and phases of the food supply chain involved with a view to identify environmen-tal hotspots related to food wastage.

The scope of this study is global: the world has been divided in seven regions, and a wide range of agricul-tural products representing eight major food commodity groups has been considered. Impact of foodwastage has been assessed along the complete supply chain, from the field to the end-of-life of food.

The global volume of food wastage is estimated to be 1.6 Gtonnes of primary product equivalents,while the total wastage for the edible part of food is 1.3 Gtonnes. This amount can be weighed againsttotal agricultural production (for food and non-food uses), which is about 6 Gtonnes.

Without accounting for GHG emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food producedand not eaten is estimated to 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the thirdtop emitter after USA and China. Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface andgroundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water dis-charge of the Volga river, or three times the volume of lake Geneva. Finally, produced but uneaten foodvainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the worlds agri-cultural land area. While it is difficult to estimate impacts on biodiversity at a global level, food wastageunduly compounds the negative externalities that monocropping and agriculture