If Food Waste Were a Country…?

by akramar on November 25, 2016 - 1:55pm

$31 billion dollars seems like a large sum of money, doesn’t it? This is the cost of the amount of all of the produced food that goes straight into the garbage every year in Canada. Food production has intense environmental impacts such as land degradation from farming practices, and air and water pollution from fertilizers, yet we still see billions of dollars of uneaten food thrown in the garbage. CBC’s “Market Place” sent investigative reporters to check out what super markets are throwing away. In Walmart’s garbage, reporters found bins full of unopened food, before the expiry date food, frozen food and perfectly edible produce. With a whopping $31 billion dollars of food waste accumulating in landfills- I think Canada can do better!

According to the David Suzuki Foundation food waste is one of the main sources of green house gases in the world; and it is simply a waste of time and energy (David Suzuki Foundation). In all, 20% of Canada’s methane emissions come from landfills (David Suzuki Foundation). An FAO report contests that if food waste was a country; it would be the third largest emitter in the world (2011). As if our soils are not being hurt enough by industrialized agriculture practices, now a substantial amount of production is wasted because consumers are not interested in buying “products that have a blemish in them” (Mancini & Vellani 2016).  So what can we do? Regulatory tools to ban food super market waste in France is currently being implemented and Italy offers tax breaks to those who have less waste; why doesn’t Canada follow suit? (Food Waste: What Some Supermarkets Throw out, 2016). One approach to reducing waste, as France successfully does, is to require corporations to donate unsold products rather than throw them in the garbage. Large companies explain they are unable to donate food to the poor because of potential lawsuits or in some cases, it costs more donate than to throw out but these are just excuses. As a society we need to reconsider how we manage food waste. Citizens should not feel the need to ‘expose’ corporations for their foul and wasteful practices; the government should be on top of it. Economic and regulatory instruments are a good starting point to giving corporations that waste food incentives to do better and/or make them pay for their produced but not eaten foods!

I think decreasing food waste is one thing we can do to help decrease climate change by at least a little bit. If the government does not make the change, we need to pressure them. This issue is easily avoidable. Corporations need to take responsibility for their actions. If they think it is too expensive to find alternative solutions to their food waste they need to look deeper. This is their corporate social responsibility as a business, to adequately address and reduce environmental issues wherever they can. We need to move away from our profit driven way of thinking - that money is the ultimate goal and that it is more important than taking care of the earth. We are hurting almost every sector of our environment through our industrial life style. This is one small and easy change that will be an important investment for Earth’s wellbeing. What do you guys think? Will you start monitoring and decreasing your food waste foot print?


Mancini, M., & Vellani, N. (2016, October 25). Here's how much food Walmart throws away over 12 days. Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/marketplace-walmart-food-waste-1.3814719

Other Sources:

(2016, October 28). Food Waste: What Some Supermarkets Throw out. Retrieved November 8, 2016, from http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2015-2016/food-waste

Food wastage footprint & Climate Change. (2011). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1-4. Retrieved November 8, 2016.

Help End Food Waste. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2016, from http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/help-end-...


Hi akramar, great post!
Some people are definitely not aware of just how much food gets thrown away, not just from supermarkets, but from restaurants too! I work in the restaurant business and time and time again I've had to watch as large amount of perfectly edible food gets thrown in the trash, and to tell you the truth, it breaks my heart. But, when it comes down to it, it's up to the higher ups to make the decisions that define the difference between the homeless going hungry and being well fed, since clearly there IS enough food to go around. I 100% agree with you that it's all about money and people need to open their eyes up to how much they waste and actually think about WHERE the food they throw away goes. Why let perfectly good food contribute to methane emissions when it could go to someone in need.
I am worried about what is to come but, there are some places that have started to work with this problem. They try to food more people and reduce the waste, its places like Second Harvest (http://www.secondharvest.ca/food-rescue) and Sustainable Calgary (https://sustainablecalgary.org/blog/2015/08/15/fixing-calgarys-food-waste/) that give me hope. One day I hope the restaurant that I work in decides to join a program such as these.