Australian charity OzHarvest to highlight global food waste at the United Nations Environment Programme Sustainable Innovation Forum at COP20 in Lima, Peru

OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue charity, in partnership with UNEP & Climate Action is taking the message of stopping global food waste to the international stage at this year’s Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF) in Lima, Peru as part of the global Think.Eat.Save campaign.

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Following the recent release of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report on Global Food Losses and Food Waste, the issues of food waste, food insecurity and sustainability have been identified as some of the world’s most urgent development challenges.

The results of the study suggested that roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons per year. It also showed that if food waste were a country, it would be the third highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, behind the USA and China, significantly contributing to global warming.

When the more than 350 delegates convene at the SIF - held at the margins of the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference, or COP20 - on 9 December, they will be treated to a unique lunch banquet with a ‘rescued-food-theme’ twist.

Australian Ambassador to Peru, Mr Nicholas McCaffrey, thanked OzHarvest visit to Lima, “I am pleased to see yet another successful Australian organisation in Peru. I hope this visit will become the start of a long and fructiferous relation.”

The event serves as an opportunity to remind delegates of the level that food waste contributes to dangerous greenhouse gasses, which affect climate change, and the amount of resources squandered on fields for crops that may never be consumed.

Peruvian celebrity chef Diego Muñoz of Astrid y Gastón, world leading restaurant and awarded No.1 Restaurant in Latin America, together with Executive Chef from Lima’s 5-star Westin Hotel, Wilfred Dass, have designed a lunch menu for the Forum using a selection of surplus produce saved from landfill or sustainably sourced from local farmers and suppliers.

The lunch is modeled after OzHarvest’s annual Think.Eat.Save events held in partnership with UNEP that feed thousands of people across the country with rescued food and raise awareness about global food waste.

The lunch will feature local Peruvian chefs, suppliers, growers as well as renowned events producer Arturo De Noriega, all impassioned by the movement to reduce food waste and wanting to leave a legacy on reducing the impact of climate change.

“As soon as I heard about what OzHarvest, UNEP and Climate Action were planning for the lunch, I knew I needed to be involved,” Muñoz said. “For me, cooking does not start when you turn the fire on or you grab a knife, but rather it begins right where food is sourced, on the land or in the sea.” Munoz spent a decade working in Australia before heading back to Lima to head up the city’s No.1 restaurant, Astrid y Gastón.

In Australia, $8 to 10 billion worth of food is wasted each year. Or 4 million tonnes per annum ends in landfill. In the United States it’s four times that amount, costing $48.3 billion per annum.

Approximately 6.7 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill in the United Kingdom – organic waste is the largest source of methane emissions, and is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Peruvian actor and activist Jason Day supported the organizations’ efforts to highlight food waste globally and locally.

“OzHarvest’s visit to Peru for the UNEP and Climate Action Sustainable Innovation Forum represents a clear opportunity for this country to learn, assimilate and turn into public policy such an innovative approach to food and fight against hunger in a very sustainable way,” Day said.

Dass, the Executive chef of the Westin Hotel tasked to feed 350 delegates said, “The Westin Hotel in Lima is proud to be working in collaboration with OzHarvest, UNEP and Climate Action to minimize food waste and we will continue this legacy in Peru and hope to see others in the industry follow.”

Claire Poole, director of Climate Action, said, “When convening such a large number of high profile individuals it’s important that the food be of the highest standard, but also sourced and provided with the guiding principles of what we are all working towards.  We must ensure we are practicing what we preach.”

More on food waste

The impact of food waste is not just financial; it results in wasted land and water resources, fuel, labour and energy. 805 million people suffer from hunger though a third of food produced goes uneaten. Rotting food generates substantial methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. The total carbon footprint of food produced but not eaten is 3.3 Gt of carbon dioxide equivalent.

“UNEP is tackling food waste head-on with its Think Eat Save methodology for food waste prevention at city, country and company level - currently being piloted in Johannesburg and expanding to other regions very soon. We are delighted to be working with OzHarvest and Climate Action in Lima to underline the importance of reducing food waste in fighting both hunger and Climate Change,” said James Lomax, Sustainable Food Systems Programme, UNEP.

Founder and CEO of OzHarvest Ronni Kahn warned that if governments, business and individuals do not act now, our food system will be in danger.

“We know that by 2050, the global population will exceed 9 billion people. For future generations, we need to make positive food choices to provide food security for all,” Kahn said. “We also need to ensure our actions protect our environment and minimise the negative impacts of climate change. Each and every one of us can make a change by reducing food waste at home, in businesses and making sustainable choices for the future of food as a resource for the future of the world we choose to live in.”

For media information and interviews please contact:
OzHarvest National Communications and Marketing Manager
Louise Tran E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. M: +61 466 620 744 Skype: louise.tl
Fast Food Facts
The impact of food waste is not just financial. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills makes a significant contribution to global warming. 

  • Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
  • Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
  • The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
  • Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming and climate change.
  • In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage –and cooling facilities. Thus, a strengthening of the supply chain through the support farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food –and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste. 
  • In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. Moreover, the study identified a lacking coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for save food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste. 
  • Food wastage's carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.
  • The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (250km3) is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
  • The direct economic consequences of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually.
  • In the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. (Jones, 2004 cited in Lundqvist et al., 2008)
  • United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. Most of this (5.9 million tonnes or 88%) is currently collected by local authorities. Most of the food waste (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed (WRAP, 2008; Knight and Davis, 2007).
  • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.
  • Australians throw out $8-10 billion of food every year. As a nation Aussies waste four million tonnes per annum of food which ends up in landfill.
  • Australians throw out one out of every five shopping bags, which equates to every Australian household throwing out $1,036 worth of groceries each year.
  • The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes of "primary product equivalents." Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes.

Sources: Global Food Losses and Food Waste www.fao.org/save-food - FAO, 2011, The environmental crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crisis – UNEP, 2009, DAFF, National Food Plan 2012

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