Our food systems are extremely harmful, not only to our environment and climate, but to human health, and our economy too. The World Economic Forum estimated that our food systems cost society $12 trillion in health, economic and environmental costs - which is 20% more than the market value. Yet 345.2 million people are projected to be food insecure in 2023, and 828 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from.
Despite this, our food systems are also extremely wasteful; ⅓ of food made for human consumption is wasted. The amount of food we waste every year:
👉 is enough to feed 1.26 billion hungry people
👉 costs the global economy $230 billion
👉 generates 4.4 GtCO2 eq, or about 8% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions.
Food waste makes up half of all GHG emissions from the global food system. When food is wasted, it breaks down and releases greenhouse gases, mostly methane. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as its molecules trap more heat. Composting food, rather than sending it to landfill, reduces greenhouse gases by 86%. If composting levels increased globally, we could reduce emissions by 2.1 billion tonnes by 2050 according to Project Drawdown - making it the number one solution to solving climate change.
As well as contributing to climate change, food waste is extremely inefficient as it wastes resources such as water, land, energy and soil. For example, did you know that it takes 100 buckets of water to produce one loaf of bread? Or that 1 recycled banana peel can produce enough energy to charge 2 smartphones.
There’s no denying that our food systems need to change, and food waste and loss needs to be drastically reduced. In the past ten years, global venture capital investment into food tech has increased by 40 times - reaching $51.7 billion in 2021. And although this investment has recently slowed, many tech companies are cropping up with new solutions to food waste all the time.
Many startups are designing machinery and reinventing food entirely to tackle this complex issue. Here are some of our favourite innovations:
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