Food waste is part of our everyday lives. It happens in many visible areas of food production and in our own refrigerators, but also in areas hidden from public view. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) states that 25 percent of the environmental impact of food results from food waste (avoidable food losses), which amounts to about half of the environmental impact of motorized private transport. In households and restaurants, wasted bread and bakery products, fresh vegetables, pork, and beef account for the highest environmental impact.
Food that is produced but not consumed generates unnecessary CO2 emissions, causes biodiversity loss and uses up land and water. Over a third of the world's food production is wasted, either during harvesting or distribution. This is a crucial amount that could be used to fight global hunger.
As livestock production has increased tremendously and global meat consumption has more than doubled in the past 20 years, the impact of livestock farming on global warming is drastic. Livestock (i.e. animals that are exploited by humans) rearing is one of the main sources of emissions. But also synthetic fertilizers, which are used extensively in the cultivation of arable land, are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and lead to water contamination and, in turn, to biodiversity loss.
The clearing of forests for livestock grazing or for the cultivation of soy and corn to produce farm animal feed results in further emissions and massive habitat loss for many animal species. Transportation of livestock by land and water releases additional pollutants, not to mention the largely unacceptable transport conditions and the suffering inflicted on the animals during transport. Animal products are therefore among the biggest environmental polluters and significantly contribute to global warming.
Vegetables and fruits should be purchased regionally and seasonally. Transportation by sea or air is a major source of emissions. Also, fruits and vegetables grown in unsuitable locations require a lot of energy and water, all the while they are expected to meet certain standards in terms of shape and size. While there are certain legal requirements in place, private enterprises largely dictate what standards the products must meet. As a result, a significant share of crops are sorted out and either sold at a fraction of the normal price, used to produce biogas, or simply discarded. Organizations like Gebana
are working on a national and international level to promote a direct, fair, and ecological trading system that supports local producers and embraces fruits and vegetables in all their shapes and colors.
The global fishing industry is another driver of food waste, with more than 80 percent of the catch being thrown back into the sea as unwanted bycatch. In many cases, the animals suffer greatly before succumbing to their injuries. But even animals belonging to the "target species" that are ultimately processed into food often suffer from severe internal injuries, like ruptured bladders due to ambient pressure reduction during the forced ascent to the water surface. Many are crushed to death or die a slow and painful death by asphyxiation. There are no "humane" killing methods in industrial fishing. eading space and workstations. Recent additions to the TIR library are featured in the TIR library newsletter.