Based on the most conservative estimates, each French citizen throws away 20 kilos of food each year. That figure reflects consumer habits that have become commonplace. A closer look at wastage of food reveals some weighty implications.
In purely financial terms, 20 kilos equates to an average loss of at least 500 euros. And the impact goes much further. 20 kilos is, in fact, the equivalent to one third of food actually consumed. That means that one third of all pesticides and fertilisers used have been wasted, and one third of the energy used to produce and transport food has been wasted. This is worth pointing out as the COP21 comes to an end.
Wastage of food worsens around year-end
Waste is a phenomenon that is especially noteworthy as we approach the year-end celebrations. It is around this time of the year that waste truly gets out of hand, with the prevalent feeling of abundance running counter to usual notions of moderation and thrift. Accountability gives way to the enjoyment of fullness.
For consumers, this sad state of affairs is a source of concern (as proven by an SRI survey - of 2 000 people as a representative of the French adult population - carried out by BNP Paribas Asset Management and Cicero Group in July 2015. Reducing food waste was the most popular theme in 2015, particularly among people between the ages of 45 and 54), but it can also serve as a rallying point. Consumers are advised to check shelf lives, maintain the correct temperatures when storing food, freeze leftovers, and make use of food containers. They are aware that additional efforts are called for to reduce waste.
Greater awareness could help
For consumers, reducing waste will require thinking twice before making a purchase, with awareness campaigns urging them to do so. It also means that future costs – costs that are currently ignored – should be made explicit more rapidly, including carbon footprints and cleaning-up of polluted soil and rivers, so that food’s true cost can be known and factored into purchasing and consumption decisions. On a simple, practical level, this also means wider use of sealed bags for leftovers.