Within the scope of waste prevention –generating less garbage –one of the current main battles is the huge quantity of food waste that we produce. We’re not aware of it, but FAO[1] has established that, worldwide, 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption is wasted.

1/3 of the food that we produce is wasted

However, this waste does not only occur at the table and in kitchens, it affects the entire production chain, from the field to industry, transport, shops and homes. In terms of ​​municipal waste, the level of waste produced by households equates[2] to 58% of the total, shops (groceries, markets, supermarkets, etc.) make up 26% and restoration (bars, restaurants, hotels, among others) the remaining 16%.

On a global scale, food production is 1.5 times greater than the demand for food, even though access[3] to food is unequal.

In Catalonia, almost 1.2 million tons of biowaste are generated each year, in the form of food waste, in homes and businesses in general. Each person wastes 6% of these foods, which end up in the garbage bin (selective or not) and this waste represents a total of 262,000 tons[4] per year. The average of this waste is 35 kg per inhabitant per year, or in other words: almost 100 grams per person and day.

The economic impact of food waste in Catalonia is estimated[5] at €841M. However, the impacts of waste can also be social or ethical (many people on this planet go hungry) and environmental: it’s estimated that global food waste caused 3.3 Gt of CO2eq., more than double the emissions produced by USA road traffic[6] (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) in 2010. The global average emission per person per year due to food waste is equal to the emissions produced by a car during a 2,300 km journey (Barcelona-Copenhagen is 2,137 km). In other words: if food waste were a country, it would be the third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. [7]

If food waste were a country, it would be the third greatest emitter of greenhouse gases

The main problem with food waste is that people are not aware[8] of the act of throwing food away.

At the municipal level, there are many initiatives, such as Food Banks or Solidarity Points, where food surpluses are channeled to families who need it.

Want to know more?

 The book Stop garbage. The truth about recycling, Alex Pascual, February 2019

► Great communication campaign for food waste in Ireland (ENG)

Good explanation of the food waste of Tristram Stuart in TED (ENG). He is awesome.

Youtube channel for food waste

i Official information about food waste. European Union (ENG)


i Guide to avoid food waste. City Council of Barcelona (CAT)


i Punt Solidari project in El Prat del Llobregat (CAT)


[1]. Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations
[2]. Guide to avoid food waste, Barcelona city hall.
[4]. Agència de Residus de la Generalitat de Catalunya residus.gencat.cat
[5]. ÁreaMetropolitana de Barcelona, www.amb.cat
[6]. Data found in FAO 2013 and “MalbaratamentAlimentari,” Treball de recerca, AMB, 2014
[7]. http://www.residuosprofesional.com/desperdicio-alimentario-emisiones-gases/
[8]. “Malbaratament Alimentari,” Treball de recerca, AMB, 2014


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