Science & Technology in Action

14th Edition

Food Waste

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Ireland produces over one million tonnes of food waste every year. About one third of this comes from households, with each producing an average of 700 kg per year or about 2 kg per day. It is estimated that this costs somewhere between €400 and €1000 per household annually. Other waste comes from commercial activities such as production, processing and service (retail, restaurants etc.).
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Lesson excerpt

Worldwide it is estimated that about one third of all food produced is wasted. In Ireland, as in other developed countries, food of all kinds is readily available and so people take it for granted and fail to appreciate its real value. We are inclined to buy more than we need and often forget to use it while it is at its best. As a result a considerable amount of food is unused and thrown in the bin.

This domestic food waste costs the average household about €700 a year. Much of it ends up in landfill where it has significant environmental impacts. However, this is not the only way in which our need for food affects the environment. The clearing of land for agriculture as well as harvesting, packaging and transportation of food also have an impact on the environment.

What is food waste?

Food waste is any food that has been produced for human consumption but is not eaten, for whatever reason. It can be lost at all stages: growing, processing, storing, selling, preparing or simply not being eaten and then thrown away. There are essentially three types of domestic food waste:

    1. Avoidable (60%): including leftovers, fruit and vegetables that have gone off or perishable food that has passed its use by date.

    2. Potentially Avoidable (20%): parts of food that we choose not to eat even though it is perfectly edible. This includes potato skins, apple peel and bread crusts or choosing not to eat meats such as liver, kidney and tongue.

    3. Unavoidable (20%): this group contains parts of food that are not suitable for our diet; this includes animal bones, inedible skins, such as orange peel, as well as shells of mussels etc.

True or False?

  1. Malnourished means not getting enough food. false
  2. Food Conversion Ratio is how many kilograms of food it takes to put 1 kg of flesh onto an animal. true
  3. BSE is caused by a virus. false
  4. Pig swill is still collected by farmers to feed pigs. false
  5. The greenhouse effect is the cause of global warming. true
  6. Food poverty is still common in Ireland. true
  7. Anaerobic means in the absence of oxygen. true
  8. Landfill is still a common way of disposing of rubbish in Ireland. true
  9. Landfill is a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. true
  10. A food should not be eaten after it ‘best before’ date. false
  11. On average each household in Ireland produces 2 kg of food waste every day. true