Impact of Food Waste

80 %

of U.S. freshwater

50 %

of U.S. land usage

10 %

total U.S. energy

Putting food on the
table costs


of food
is wasted

8 %

of real
food loss
in retail chains

92 %

of food loss

About 1/3 of all food produced for humans goes to waste. This is worse in rich countries, with the US, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada being the worst offenders.

According to the analyses of food waste from the ForMat project , which is supported by the interviews with the representatives from the retail sector done in this project, most food waste generated in the retail shops is due to loss of freshness and quality (fresh bakery products,fresh fruits and vegetables) or expiring date (meat products, seafood products and dairy products)."

Managing the inventory of food products in relation to expiring dates and the consumer’s attitudes to fresh products is thus the main reason for generation of food waste in the retail chain from grocery companies to retail shops (92% of food loss). Food loss due to breakage of packaging or damage of products in handling in transport and storage do only contribute to about 8% of the real food loss in retail chains.

Registered causes for food waste generation in retail shops in Norway 2009

Source: (page 58)

Waste occurs in every step
of the supply chain.



Impact of waste

When food is wasted, all the resources that were invested into its production,
distribution, and storage are wasted as well.

Carbon emission

3.3 B tons of greenhouse gas. If food waste were a country, it the 3rd GHG emitter after the US and China.


250 km³ of surface and groundwater resources aproximately double the volume of Lake Tahoe


Produced and uneaten food occupies 1.4 B hectares of land, ~30 % of the world's agricultural land area.


Agriculture responsible for 66% of threats to species and monocultures threatening biodiversity

Impact of food waste
in numbers

GHG emissions

6 %

Uneaten food rots in landfills, where it accounts for nearly a quarter of all U.S. methane emissions, a greenhouse gas even more destructive than CO2. In the European Union, food waste is responsible for 6% of all GHG emissions.


11 %

Despite food waste being a major issue, world hunger remains prevalent, affecting more than 800M people worldwide (11% of the global population).

most favoured option

energy recovery

least favoured option

Prevention is the most favored option in combating food waste


Solution: Wasteless

ReFED identified 27 solutions to food waste. Wasteless
incorporates three of these solutions:

Waste diverted from

Economic value of
waste diverted ($/ ton)

Consumer education

Dynamic price tags will make consumers more aware of expiration dates and waste

Improved inventory

Automatically track remaining shelf life and have smoother order forecasting


Creates a secondary market
within the same store by offering lower prices for expiring goods

Wasteless helps tackle the food waste issue by reducing waste at the retailer level. Grocers can sell more of their inventory, thereby reducing waste, and consumers can make more conscientious purchase decisions when it comes to food.

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