3 Jun 2015


Reducing food waste by 50% by 2020 is the objective of the Barilla Foundation's (BCFN) Milan Protocol.

Each year, about 1.3 billion tons of food, one-third of global production and the equivalent of almost 1 trillion dollars' worth of food, is lost and wasted. One-fourth of the wasted food would be enough to nourish the 795 million people who suffer from hunger.
An eloquent and dramatic paradox, which demands a solid and urgent commitment from everyone. On Environment Day, which this year will be celebrated officially at the 2015 Milan Expo, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation is relaunching the objective of the Milan Protocol: reduce food waste by 50% by 2020. How? By intervening throughout the entire food chain, from farmers to consumers: with preventive actions, to prevent waste from the start of the production process, and then by learning how to reuse leftover food to feed humans and animals, and lastly, to produce energy and compost.
Developing countries and industrialized countries: opposite situations, similar waste
Food waste is not just what happens in the final part of the food chain, during distribution, sale and consumption (food waste, according to the FAO's definition), but it is also the loss which occurs in the agricultural production phase, after the harvest and through food processing (food losses). Waste and loss are deeply influenced by the specific local conditions of different countries. Consumer food waste on average is between 95 and 115 kg. per person a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Sahara Africa, South and South-East Asia throw away about 6-11 kg. a year. In developing countries, 40% of loss occurs after the harvest or during processing, while in industrialized countries over 40% of the loss occurs during the retail sales and final consumption phases. However, overall, industrialized countries and developing countries tend to dissipate about the same amount of food, respectively 670 and 630 tons.

Effects on the environment: 3.3 billion tons of CO2 is the carbon footprint of global food waste
"Food waste has a negative impact on the environment, on the economy, on food security and on nutrition" affirms Ludovica Principato, a Ph.D candidate in Management at the La Sapienza University of Rome and a BCFN Foundation researcher."The global carbon footprint of lost and wasted food worldwide is about 3.3 billion tons of CO2 and is equal to about 6-10% of anthropogenic (i.e., man-made) greenhouse gases. If the food waste was represented by a country, it would be the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide, after the United States and China. Furthermore, waste implies a reduction in global and local food availability and has a negative impact on people's access to food; for example, due to the rise in prices, which especially impacts the most vulnerable part of the population, such as women and children."

"Climate change, both in terms of global warming and the scarcity of rainfall in some of the planet's regions" comments Riccardo Valentini, a professor at the Università della Tuscia and BCFN Advisory Board member, "will contribute to increasing global food prices within a range of 3% to 84% by 2050, posing a serious threat to food production and security. Currently, over 800 million people are suffering from severe malnutrition worldwide and about 36 million die from lack of food. Successfully dealing with the issue of food access is therefore the great challenge for the coming years".

In Italy, 35% of fresh products (dairy, meat, fish), 19% of bread and 16% of fruits and vegetables are wasted. Food waste in our country causes the loss of 1.226 billion cubic meters of water a year, equal to 2.5% of the Po river's entire annual flow, and releases 24.5 million tons of CO2 emissions into the environment annually, of which 14.3 million is due to household waste. To absorb just the CO2 produced by household waste in Italy, a forested area larger than that existing in Lombardy would be needed.
Possible solutions
BCFN proposes some specific and sound recommendations to reduce the dimensions and the impact of food waste, among them:
Reduce to recover less: investing first in reducing food losses and waste and then in their recovery.
(Re)use: launching initiatives to recover the waste that has not yet been eliminated, by distributing it to disadvantaged people, using it as animal feed or, as a last alternative, producing bioenergy.
A political priority: managing waste reduction at the institutional level, while ensuring that the adoption of standards does not introduce unjustified losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.
Cooperate to save: developing supply chain agreements among farmers, producers and distributors for more appropriate planning of the food supply.
Inform to educate: Raising consumer awareness of waste and teaching consumers how to purchase, store, prepare and ultimately dispose of food on a more sustainable basis.
The various potential solutions first of all indicate a need: to intervene throughout the entire food supply chain, from farmers to processing and distribution companies to the end user. Because the solution to the paradox of food waste is to share responsibility.
A message that BCFN strongly reaffirms, also in view of the summit which will be held on June 4 in Milan with the Agriculture Ministers from different countries around the world: an important stop on the road map of the Milan Charter, which has already gotten over 100,000 signatures and which everyone is invited to join.

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