Food waste is a significant cause for concern worldwide and is very prevalent here in South Africa. Globally, a third of all food produced is wasted. South Africa is on par with this statistic, with 27% of food going to waste along with various parts of the supply chain. This amounts to 10 million tonnes that could have been avoided.
The team at BiobiN South Africa highlights some important research into the food supply chain and where our food goes to waste. As an indication:
- Agricultural production: 2.7 million tonnes go to waste. Handling and storage: 2.4 million tonnes go to waste.
- Processing and packaging: 2.6 million tonnes go to waste.
- Distribution: 2 million tonnes go to waste.
- Consumption: 0.5 million tonnes go to waste.
It is imperative that we address the food waste issue to offset the social and environmental impacts.
Approximately 25% of households in our country are at risk of experiencing hunger. Addressing the volumes of food waste at the pre-consumer stages can ensure an increased surplus will reach consumers; this will also reduce the risk of a lack of access to food.
We then need to look at how food waste can be managed with a circular approach. It is estimated that 1 tonne of food waste can cost up to R6000 to landfill and is the most challenging waste type to manage in landfill.
Keeping food waste completely out of the landfill waste stream by using a waste management system like composting is becoming the most feasible and long-term sustainable solution to address the impacts of food waste.