Food Waste Devastation- A Global Crisis

Global food loss and waste (FLW) is an increasingly crucial issue with detrimental environmental and socio-economic impacts. It has been reported that roughly one third of annual global food produced for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – is lost or wasted, costing the economy US$680 billion globally. More than 40% of this food waste is attributed to consumers, and inevitably results in inefficient use of natural resources, economic loss, and public health issues. This report will characterize food waste in North America and identify initiatives you can take to reduce food waste in your home.

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Socio-Economic Impacts

FLW is significant in North America, generating approximately 168 million tonnes annually – 13 million tonnes in Canada and 126 million tonnes in the United States, and costs the economy an estimated CDN$30 billion in Canada and US$160 billion in the United States. With 40% of FLW contributed by consumers, FLW in Canada equates to 375lbs/person/year and 415lbs/person/year in the United States.

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To put this significant volume of waste in perspective, the amount of consumer food waste in Canada is equivalent to the weight of one million male elephants and ten million in the United States.

A report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, states that the majority of FLW in households is caused by confusion over best before labels, lack of consumer behavior towards utilizing what is purchased, and spoilage.  Food spoilage is often due to improper storage, poor visibility in refrigerators, purchasing too much, impulse buying, poor planning, partially used ingredients, and cooking too much.

Furthermore, the average Canadian household spends $8,784 on food a year, wasting CAD$940 on uneaten food. The average American household throws away US$555 annually.

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Environmental Impacts

The environmental impacts of food waste are significant. In addition to inefficient use of land, water, energy and fertilizers, FLW creates 193 million tonnes of CO2 annually (21 million tonnes in Canada and 123 million tonnes in the United States). Food waste in landfills are a significant source of methane gas (CH4) – a greenhouse gas 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide (CO2). Moreover, the decomposition of uneaten food in landfills account for 20-23% of all methane gas emissions.

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Composting scraps is an important way to manage the environmental impacts of food waste in landfills; it reduces methane emissions, recycles nutrients and raises consciousness about how much food households waste.

Did You Know?

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Simple initiatives you can take to minimize FLW in your home

  • Meal Plan
    • Create a weekly meal plan and shopping list before heading to the market. Buying your food with meals in mind will minimize spoilage caused by poor planning and buying too much food. Be disciplined and follow your list. If you are tempted to buy a good deal, adjust your list and meal plan.
  • Hemp-Fresco™
    • Food lasts longer when it is stored properly. Some produce keeps better on the counter while others are better in the fridge. Hemp-Fresco™ naturally absorbs ripening gases and excess moisture given off by produce, extending the life of your produce whether you store it on the counter or in the fridge. Learn more about Hemp-Fresco™.

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  • Create an “Eat First” Bin
    • Set up a “eat first” bin to use older food items first. Hemp-Fresco™ is the perfect addition to these bins, adding life to the best before dates. These chic bins will increase food visibility so you don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables!
  • Soup N’ Freeze
    • Freezing uneaten vegetables or turning them into delicious soups and stews are an easy way of extending the life of what isn’t getting eaten right away.
  • Buy Less, Eat More
    • Grab a few bananas instead of a bunch or a few apples instead of a bag. Only purchase what you know you will eat and stick to your meal plan. Cutting back over-purchasing produce can be more economical. Hemp-Fresco™ will save you extra trips to the market by naturally slowing the spoilage of produce so you throw away less and save more.
  • Imperfect Produce Wants to be Tasted, Not Wasted
    • Nobody likes to be picked last, same goes for produce. 40-50% of all fruit & vegetables produced are wasted, largely due to quality standards, related to size, shape and appearance set by retailers. Produce not sold within 24 hours of being display is dumpster-bound unless you buy it. If you are going home to immediately prepare what you have purchase, consider choosing overripe produce. Small changes to your buying behavior have the power to make a measurable, meaningful difference on food waste.