The average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food per year, UN report estimates
A United Nations report estimates that 17 per cent of the food produced globally each year is wasted. (Emmet / Pexels)
TORONTO -- A new report from the United Nations suggests that the average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of food at home per year.
The report, released on Thursday from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), estimates that humans worldwide waste about 17 per cent of foodthat’s produced, measuring more than 930 million tonnes.
Relying primarily on a 2019 report from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the UNEP found that Canadians waste 79 kilograms of household food, per capita, per year, for a total of 2.94 million metric tonnes of household food waste per year.
By comparison, the average American wastes 59 kilograms of household food per year and the average person in the United Kingdom wastes about 77 kilograms of household food per year.
Additionally, Canada’s total puts it as one of the worst household food wasters in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, though the UN has “very low confidence” in many of its estimates for the regions.
According to the report, about 61 per cent of the food waste happens in households, while the food service industry and retailers account for the remainder.
Canada did not have data for the food service or retailer food waste portions of the study.
The report also doesn’t quite show the full scale of the problem, as many countries do not measure food waste. In all, the UN only found 17 countries with “high quality” food waste data.
"Many countries haven't yet quantified their food waste, so they don't understand the scale of the problem," Clementine O'Connor, co-author of the report and sustainable food systems programme officer at the UNEP, told The Associated Press.
Food waste has become a growing environmental concern in recent years due to the land needed for food production and the greenhouse gas emissions that arise in the process of getting food from the farm to the plate.
When it comes to the waste of this food, some experts have at least partially blamed expiry labels on packaging, which can lead people to throw out food prematurely.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, “best before” dates mean that if a product stored under the proper conditions, then it should maintain its high quality until that date, but should still be edible afterwards.
“You can buy and eat foods after the best-before date has passed,” the CFIA states. “However, when this date has passed, the food may lose some of its freshness and flavour, or its texture may have changed. Some of its nutritional value may be lost.”
With files from The Associated Press