How to tackle food waste for a more sustainable future

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors

Supporting Stop Food Waste Day

  • Food waste is a global challenge that has wide-reaching social, economic and environmental impact. According to UNEP’s Food Waste Index Report 2021, 17% of total food available to consumers went to waste in 2019 – enough to fill 23 million 40-tonne trucks.1
  • Halving global food waste by 2030 is one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). DSM strives to raise awareness of the growing food waste problem and offers solutions that increase the shelf life of food, help reduce waste and ultimately, feed growing populations worldwide.
  • Stop Food Waste Day on April 28th aims to draw attention to the food waste epidemic and share creative and impactful solutions. Tackling food waste starts at home, where each one of us can make an immediate difference - that’s why we’ve put together a handy recipe booklet to help avoid leftovers and potential food waste. 

The global food waste challenge

Food waste plays a central role in some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as hunger, poverty and climate change. Approximately 931 million tonnes of food sold to households, retailers, restaurants and other food services went to waste in 2019, accounting for around 17% of total food available to consumers.2 Going beyond the consumer level, $1 trillion of food is lost or wasted every year. Reversing this trend would preserve enough food to feed two billion people – more than double the number of undernourished people worldwide.3 Stop Food Waste Day, which takes place on April 28th, aims to draw attention to the food waste issue and raise awareness of solutions that can help tackle the problem, through changing how food is produced, bought, stored and consumed.

By 2050, world food consumption is expected to grow by 70%.4 With these extra mouths to feed, sustainability across the global food supply chain is critical to ensuring healthy diets and adequate nutrition for all. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an 82% increase in people facing crisis levels of hunger compared with 2019, as 272 million people are now at severe risk.5 And, with at least four countries on the brink of famine, minimizing waste to support more sustainable food systems has never been more vital.6

Antioxidants as the answer  

Prolonging the shelf life is an important step in reducing food waste and a growing number of consumers wants this to happen in a less artificial way. DSM has a broad portfolio of antioxidants and bio-preservatives that help to increase shelf life in a natural and consumer-friendly way. Tocopherol (vitamin E), mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are all antioxidants that reduce and slow down the chemical spoilage of food, helping to increase shelf life and reduce food waste. 

Each food type requires a customized quantity and combination of ingredients to reduce oxidation. By measuring the antioxidants naturally present in the raw ingredients used to manufacture food products, DSM builds the antioxidant system based on those ratios and uses its formulation and application expertise to ensure an optimal shelf life. This process helps food producers save time and money in getting products to market

Why sustainability matters

Food waste also has significant environmental consequences, with it being associated with up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.7 DSM actively works to lower the environmental footprint of its activities and has already achieved a 25% absolute reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions8 when compared to our 2016 baseline.9

One example of how DSM is creating more sustainable solutions is in the manufacturing of tocopherol and ascorbic acid, where we have achieved a significant reduction in emissions. The result? An ingredient product that helps customers drive progress towards science-backed sustainability targets with the lowest carbon footprint on the market.

DSM’s purpose-led solutions make us the ideal partner to achieve longer shelf life in an effective and consumer-friendly way. As an end-to-end partner, our portfolio of science-backed products, customized solutions and expert services support food manufacturers in integrating sustainability at every stage of the product development process – from concept to consumer. Contact us to discover how an end-to-end partnership with DSM can help reduce food waste and create brighter lives for all

Stop food waste with a good taste – let’s make it personal  

Reducing food waste is everyone’s responsibility and, this year, the UN Food Systems Summit will provide an important springboard for stakeholders across the public and private sectors to launch new strategies that tackle food waste worldwide. There are also simple things we can all do – starting in our own kitchens – to help reduce food waste.

Our booklet provides handy hints and tips that encourage consumers to carefully consider how to store food in the best way to prevent waste, and how to serve the right amount to avoid leftovers that may potentially be thrown away.

Published on

28 April 2021

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4 min read

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References

 
  1. ‘UN: 17% of all food available at consumer levels is wasted’, United Nations Environment Programme, https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/un-17-all-food-available-consumer-levels-wasted, 2021.

  2. UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021’, United Nations Environment Programme, https://www.unep.org/resources/report/unep-food-waste-index-report-2021, 2021. 

  3. ‘8 facts to know about food waste and hunger’, United Nations Environment Programme’, https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/8-facts-to-know-about-food-waste-and-hunger/, 2020.

  4. ‘Global agriculture towards 2050’, High-Level Expert Forum, http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/wsfs/docs/Issues_papers/HLEF2050_Global_Agriculture.pdf, 2009. 

  5. ‘World on the brink of a “hunger pandemic”: coronavirus threatens to push millions into starvation, Oxfam International, https://www.oxfam.org/en/world-brink-hunger-pandemic-coronavirus-threatens-push-millions-starvation, 2021.

  6. Chase Sova, ‘After one year of COVID-19, what lessons have we learned about hunger?’, United Nations World Food Program USA, https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/after-one-year-of-covid-19-what-lessons-have-we-learned-about-hunger/, 2021. 

  7. ‘Fighting food waste means fighting climate change’, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, https://unfccc.int/news/fighting-food-waste-means-fighting-climate-change, 2020.

  8. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by DSM. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling used for DSM’s operations 

  9. DSM Integrated Annual Report, 2020.

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