Food waste threatens the Environment

by Odimegwu Onwumere

Almost everybody is crying of hunger in this country in recent
times. Hardly is anyone thinking about the quantity of food that is
being wasted everyday. This practice is becoming a threat to the
environment. The waste of food is being ample, suggest authorities.

But the waste is not circumstanced by only the individuals. Food waste
transpires in the companies that process, produce and retail food. In
2011 alone, there is an account, which bemoans that 1.3 billion tonnes
of foods are wasted annually. In the global food production index,
this loss is one third of food that is produced annually.

In a description of June 2013 by the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), global food wastage hits $1trn per annum. The
revelation from this year’s World Environment Day with the theme,
‘Think, Eat, Save, Reduce your Foodprints’, is an eye-opener to the
danger food waste posits on the environment.

There are expressions-of-grief by the establishments that the amount
of food that is being wasted, is capable of feeding as many millions
of people as possible everyday; but most especially, those who drink
tears for tea and ashes for bread before they go to bed. The Executive
Director of Environment Rights Action (ERA), Dr. Godwin Ojo does not
hide his voice to this fact. Purportedly, he says that as a result of
food waste, majority of the citizens are endangered by the menace of
lack-of-food and, the sphere is being pressurized by climate

Upon that this year’s World Environment Day theme was mutually elected
by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP and the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Ojo says that the dangers
the environment is facing cannot be overemphasized, with their in-fact
unyielding energy catastrophes. The Lagos State governor Babatunde
Fashola cries that food waste contributes to the global warming. In
his wisdom, Fashola supposedly says: Food wastage leads to the
squandering of resources, such as fertilisers, pesticides and fuel,
used for transportation.

In a UNEP story: Our growing population puts so much pressure on the
environment that nowadays the natural resources are no longer as
abundant as they used to be. How we use and dispose of non-renewable
resources is radically altering our ecosystems and even the planet’s
renewable resources (such as water, timber or fish) are rapidly being
exhausted. We have now reached a tipping point where the quality of
air and water needs to be improved, the level of production needs to
be balanced and the amount of waste generated needs to be reduced.

Fashola says that the volume of food going into landfill sites is
enormous and this creates methane, which is one of the most
detrimental donors to climate change. The governor has fears following
the statistics of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, an agency of
the United Nations (UN), which demonstrates that 1.3 billion tonnes of
food is wasted annually around the globe. Conversely, he appends that
if more than 20,000 children below the age of five die daily from
hunger, the country’s population is threatened and this is
environmentally bad, where statistics show that one out of every seven
people in the world, including Nigeria, go to bed hungry. The governor
nonetheless discards the report, describing it as “unacceptable,
unfair and harsh on posterity”. His unacceptability is hinged on the
fact that producing companies, retailers and consumers waste food that
was very much healthy for human consummation. The governor expresses
that unless Nigerians make informed choices in buying and expenditure,
food waste may become a phenomenon that would be farfetched to stop.

There are magnitudes of fear concerning the threat of food waste to
the environment. This informed the estimation of the Minister of
Environment, Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, that this year’s theme:
‘Think. Eat. Save. Reduce your Food print’, is the chief purpose to
underline the enormity of food desecration worldwide and the related
environmental, humanitarian and economic connotations. This she says
that the nuances are putting agriculture and food security at risk,
thus effecting ruthless corollaries on defenceless and underprivileged
agriculturally-reliant people in the civilization.

The Minister says that the 2012 floods in Nigeria wreaked havoc on
several states of the federation, adversely affecting human lives,
property, livelihoods, settlements, fresh water/coastal water
resources, fisheries, forest, biodiversity, agricultural farmlands,
food supplies, health/sanitation and human migrations, placing a huge
challenge to food supply and food security across the nation.

The authorities say that people do not take to knowledge their
consummation of food, which is particularly what this year’s World
Environment Day theme intends to exact. Part of negative environmental
impacts is caused by food waste. It is also a colossal drain on
natural resources. People just throw away food, not minding the
negative impact on the environment. Apart from the companies that
produce, process and retail food assumed to be in the gargantuan habit
of wasting food, a testimony by professionals says the contrary. It
says that food left over on plate and pots not used, expired-processed
food, fruits and vegetables not eaten and sundry, which later are
thrown into the trashcan, constitute to environmental degradation. And
from a little quantity of food waste thrown out a day, multiplies in a
week, month and year.

The unpardonable road networks have been fingered as one of the causes
of food waste as it affects the easy transportation of food from areas
where there is much food to areas where there is shortage. There has
been an outcry that not investing on a-post harvest food preservation
is detrimental. And the government’s incessant clutching on using the
farmlands of the local farmers that feed over 60% of the population is

Specialists say that inadequate storage of food before purchase should
be drastically checkmated to curtail the environmental impact of waste
food. An account says that immensity of wasted food, which ends up in
landfills, and decomposing food in landfills, which produces methane
gas (known as one of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global
warming), should be diminished. Creating awareness of the significance
in the ease of recycling should be encouraged.

Consultants say that to save the environment there should be
discouragement of food waste, because it leads to wasteful use of
chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, more fuel used for
transportation, and more rotting food. The citizens should not be
imitating end-users in rich countries, which waste almost as much food
(222 million tonnes) as the total grid food assembly of sub-Saharan
Africa (230 million tonnes). There should be enhancement in financial,
administrative and practical constrictions in harvesting techniques as
well as storage – and nipping amenities – to avert food waste and
losses, which happen chiefly at early steps of the food value

In level of coordination, experts suggest that farmer-buyer agreements
can be helpful. Among industries, retailers and consumers raising
awareness is expedient in finding the optimum ways to waste food
curtailing. Also, the country should spare itself of the financial
waste, like the United States, which her 30% of all food, worth
US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. Again, the
United Kingdom households dissip

ate a sketchy 6.7 million tonnes of
food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes procured.

The powers-that-be are saying that the application of “Sustainable
consumption” is important, as it is all about ‘doing more and better
with less.’ They say that this would reduce resource use, degradation
and pollution, while increasing the quality of life for all. A system
that will encourage reduction of waste and save cost should moreover
be supported.

Ojo seemingly explains that the trend fuelled by food wastages
resulting from lack of access to food supply due to poor road
infrastructure and the capitalist greed of agribusiness men has to be
readdressed. Fashola, according-to-the-grapevine, calls on retailers,
hospitality industry and restaurant operators to remodel product
packages to avoid waste and directed religious bodies, the government
and non-governmental organisations, schools and institutions of higher
learning to move up the campaign against wastage of food, because the
loss of property and livelihood is one that citizens must upsettingly
guide against to ease global hotness.

It’s possible that the country would get it right if it pays attention
to the advise by the UN Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Dauda
Toure, which invariably suggests that this year’s theme is an
anti-food waste and food loss campaign; everyone is being encouraged
to pay attention to the consumption patterns and take urgent steps to
reduce their foodprint. The Minister of Environment hence articulates
that given the imbalances in lifestyles, standards of living, economic
status and the enormous environmental challenges facing our people,
there is the need for us to be more aware of the environmental impacts
and economic consequences of the food choices we make to enable us
make informed decisions on food management.

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