Why so much food?

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Why so much food?

What’s the fuss about Food Waste in South Africa?


  • Roughly 1/3 of food prepared for human consumption – 1.3 billion tonnes gets wasted each year.
  • Every year consumers in rich countries waste as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 842 million people in the world don’t have enough to eat.
  • If food waste was a country it would be the 3rd largest Carbon Dioxide emitter.
  • Every time food is wasted; the water, energy, time, manpower, fertilizer, fuel, packaging and money put into growing the food product is wasted.


  • South Africa’s food waste is reflective of the world’s food waste epidemic with 10 million tonnes out of 31 million tonnes of food produced being binned.
  • The energy wasted on producing this wasted food in South Africa per year is equated to supply enough energy to the City of Johannesburg for 16 weeks.
  • The water used to produce these wasted food products would fill 600 000 Olympic size swimming pools.
  • 90% of waste is sent to landfill sites of which the food-waste component leads to methane gas (a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes 28-36 times more impact on the environment than carbon-dioxide).
  • 65-90% of organic waste (including food waste) collected by Municipalities is sent to landfill sites.

WWF and Woolworths research, the Green House www.tgh.co.za and UCT Chemical Engineering Department.

Where is the waste generated in hotels and restaurants?

  • Spoiled out of date food
  • Peelings & trimmings
  • Inedible products ie bones, coffee grounds, tea leaves
  • Kitchen error
  • Plate waste


‘LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE’ for Businesses:

  • Ensure that food that is still edible but needs to be removed, is sent to your local charity immediately.
  • The South African Academic sector needs your fact-finding research on your food loss to assist them with further research.
  • Ensure your packaging is of good quality to ensure food stays fresh for longer.
  • Don’t destroy hail damaged food, rather slice and dice or use for fertilizer.
  • Educate your customers on food waste and offer smaller portions (41% of those surveyed in the UK blamed oversized portions for leaving food)
  • Staff training on waste reduction and management strategy.

‘LOVE FOOD HATE WASTE’ for Individual Consumers:

  • Get curious about your food, where it came from and understand the journey it takes to get to your store.
  • Understand the date labels. ‘Sell by” is information for the grocer not for you, the consumer.
  • Make wise decisions when purchasing, and purchase what you know you will consume.
  • Prepare the right quantity, and don’t over serve.
  • Freeze leftovers
  • Reuse any packaging that can be used for alternative purposes and recycle and compost.


Resources and further reading:


Lori Voss


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