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Doing Better

Food waste: two words that sound mildly problematic, but don’t cause most people to lose any sleep at night. Do you give much thought to the food you scrape off your plate into the garbage night after night? Or to the bruised fruit that goes from the bowl on the counter to the bin under the sink? If you are like the majority of the population, probably not. We are often mildly irritated at how it is a waste of our own money, and then we don’t really think about it again until the next time we are scraping our plates and tossing more bruised fruit into the garbage.

Believe me, this happens at my house, and I’m trying to figure out how we can do better. The extra dollars in my pocket at the end of the day are a nice incentive, but ultimately, we need to find motivation in bettering our world, preserving our resources, and making sure no one is left hungry. Food waste is not mildly problematic – it is a hugely significant global issue. Since October 16th is World Food Day, let’s talk about food waste, and ways that we can work to minimize it.

It is estimated that 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This is roughly equal to one third of all food produced for human consumption. This is also roughly equal to the amount of food needed to feed all 815 million hungry people in the world – four times over. We can do better.

When we throw something away that was meant for human consumption, we often fail to remember that we are not simply wasting food; we are wasting the multitude of resources that were used to ready that food for consumption. The land it was planted on, the water that irrigated it, the fuel used to harvest and transport it; these are all lost, and when considered at a global level, these losses are staggering. We can do better.

In a publication from Reset, 28 percent of the world’s agricultural area is used each year to produce food that is ultimately lost or wasted. Two hundred and fifty cubic kilometers of water (three times the volume of Lake Geneva) are used each year to produce food that is ultimately lost or wasted. To put it in context, each time we toss one bruised apple in the garbage, we are also pouring 125 liters of water down the drain. We can do better.

So how can we do better? As we commemorate World Food Day 2021, there are a multitude of means for improvement at every stage along the farm to table journey. Agri-food systems are complex, and we all rely on them either as a livelihood or for nutrition (or sometimes both). These systems need to be efficient, and all parts of the value chain need to strive to reduce waste.  At Winpak, we are committed to creating innovative packaging technologies that extend shelf life, improve food safety, and reduce climate impact.  Innovations like Winpak’s flexible recycle ready packaging solutions do their part by offering extended shelf life and reducing climate impact. 

As to what we can do at home to support healthy agri-food systems, we can start with the easy stuff, like cutting the bruise from the apple and eating the good part. We can educate ourselves on the more complicated stuff, like food safety. We can compost, we can reduce, and we can encourage the businesses we frequent to abandon practices (like over-stocking shelves) that lead to increased waste. Things likely won’t change quickly, but if we improve our own habits and ask others to do the same, change will come. Little things will start to add up. And we will be doing better.


James  Holland
James Holland
President, Winpak Division & Winpak Films Inc.
Winnipeg, MB Canada

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