3 Sources of Pollution from our Food Waste

As we saw in the previous post, our society’s choices to waste excessive amounts of food are beginning to run several key resources dry. Even more unfortunate is the fact that this isn’t the only environmental impact that’s coming from our food waste. In this post, we will cover some of the key pollutants that our modern agriculture is producing. Although we know that some pollutants are necessary to create the food that we eat, and we’re not arguing that we need to cut them completely, but the fact that we’re wasting up to 40% of the food that we cultivate is a troubling stat, and one that adds substantial pollution in our environment for food that is just being thrown into landfills to pollute our environment even further.

  1. Air Pollution

When food is discarded and broken down into landfills, it produces carbon dioxide, but it’s also the leading contributor of methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, and is a product of these landfills as well as livestock. For every kg of food waste thrown in landfills, 3,8 kgs of greenhouse gases are emitted, and with 97% of food waste heading to landfills, this leads to severe consequences. We must also factor in the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted during the production, as Agriculture itself accounts for 33% of our world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to the transportation emissions to markets, landfills or any other destination. The yearly pollution from food waste in Finland is the equivalent of what 100 000 cars produce in the same year.

  1. Land Pollution

Although synthetic fertilizers act as nutrients to nourish plants and crops, the excessive overuse of these products to try to keep up with our growing (and unnecessary) demand for food is beginning to take its toll on the fertile lands across the globe. The excess fertilizer that’s placed in the soil ends up polluting it and degrades the water retention ability and fertility over time, and also adds toxic pollutants into the ecosystem. Landfills, where our food waste ends up, are taking up large amounts of land and polluting any soil or water in the area. It’s important to note that the UK estimates that it will run out of landfill sites by 2019, and have to search for even more land that it will eventually destroy. Agriculture also accounts for 74% of the total annual deforestation around the globe, and is the leading factor as to why we’re losing so many of our precious forests and the biodiversity they contain.

  1. Water Pollution

The waste we throw in landfills and the fertilizers we drown our crops in are polluting the underground water in these areas, as well as the water bodies that this water streams to. The overuse of fertilizers creates excessive amounts of Nitrogen and Phosphorus, which poisons drinking water and aquatic ecosystems when used in the massive quantities that are being seen in agriculture across the globe today. This excessive pressure to produce more crop yields is a result of our society wasting so much perfectly edible food.

The key to start making a positive change towards the pollution that we’re creating is to stop wasting food. Although we will naturally need to continue to grow our agriculture, we will need to cut down on our food waste to prevent such drastic impacts from continuing to grow at such an alarming pace. We’re killing our own environment for food that isn’t even being eaten.

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3 Key Resources that are being further depleted because of Food Waste

It’s no secret that food waste results in many negative consequences for the environment. These impacts are made exponentially worse because of the food waste created throughout the food chain, from the initial production, through to the retailers, and finishing with the consumers. Only recently in our human history has society become so wealthy that we have been able to develop a problem such as food waste. These consequence are ethical issues that the world is beginning to wake up to, but there still has yet to be a large enough of a reaction to reverse these terrible effects. Our modern agriculture creates several detrimental consequences on the environment around us, and by wasting up to 40% of the food we produce, we as a society are only increasing these terrible consequences. Let’s take a look at a few of the key resource that our modern agriculture is beginning to exhaust:

  1. Water Wastage

Modern agriculture currently uses 70% of the global freshwater used each year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that food production will need to increase by 60% by 2050, and therefore the amount of freshwater needed to meet these needs will have to increase. When food is wasted, so is fresh water. As freshwater resources become scarcer, it will be imperative to minimize the food waste so that we’re not wasting water.

  1. Land Wastage

As our population’s need for food production increases, there’s an increased pressure put on the land. Not using up to 40% of the food that’s produced puts a terrible strain on the land, and is starting to erode fertile land. FAOs latest estimate (from 2007), shows that 1,4 billion hectares of land, which is almost the same total area as Russia, were used to produce food that wasn’t even eaten.

  1. Phosphorus Wastage

Phosphorus is one of the main components in fertilizer, which is a crucial material that’s needed in agriculture. Phosphorus is used to help in the development of roots, flowers, seeds and fruit. However, as more and more of it’s used to meet the demanding agricultural needs around the world, an increasing amount of Phosphorus is needed, but the production of it may reach its peak in 2030. The scary consequence that’s been noted by scientists is that we could run out of Phosphorus completely in 50-100 years.

As we can see, if we continue to increase agricultural production in the decades to come, we may begin to live the terrible effects of depleting some of our most valuable resources. The answer to this is to stop wasting so much food. If we were to tone down our food waste, producers would not have to put so much pressure on these resources and could begin to save some of the much-needed supply.

If you’re interested in learning more about the awful impacts that food waste is causing to our planet, come back on Friday as we explore the pollution that we’re seeing from food waste, and its impact on our climate.

Welcome Readers!

Welcome to Froodly’s new blog, we’re extremely excited to get going! For all the readers from Finland, we hope your Juhannus celebrations are going well! This post serves as an introduction to who we are and what we do at Froodly.

So a little bit about ourselves, Froodly is aiming to tackle the terrible problem of food waste in our society. The last estimate from the MTT Agrifood Research Centre of Finland estimated that a total of 335-460 million kgs of food are wasted every year in Finland, or 62-85 kgs per person. This is an unacceptable number, and one that is creating roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as 100 000 cars produce in a year. Not only does this wasted food create carbon dioxide and methane, two dangerous greenhouses gases, but it also occupies large amounts of land, and needs large amounts of freshwater, energy, fossil fuels and money to actually produce this food in the first place. We’re using up large amounts of our limited natural resources to create food that isn’t even getting eaten in the end.

This is where we at Froodly hope to intervene and help to push consumers and retailers towards a compromise that minimises the food waste produced, and that also brings added benefits to both parties. Our mobile application allows users to see all of the discounted products that are reaching their expiry date around them, and can therefore make buying choices that will help save them money and help to make a difference for the environment. Food retailers are able to have a platform that allows them to market these expiring products, which at the moment usually get thrown out, so that these retailers can obtain more revenue, reduce waste management costs, and do their part in being responsible businesses towards the environment around them.

The pieces that tie it all together are the contributors. Because we know that these food retail store employees don’t have the time to upload all of this information to our application, our personal contributors upload this information as much as they please, in return for Froodly credits. At certain milestones, these credits can be exchanged for great prizes and benefits, including ‘Green’ prizes for the environmentally friendly contributors.

So welcome to our blog, and we’re excited to embark on this journey with you towards a society that takes a stand against food waste in our community. Visit our website at www.froodly.com for more information or to become an early contributor!

Best Regards,

The Froodly Team