Lesson 3: Food waste: What it is?

Food waste is a global problem that affects us all. We throw away one of every three foods produced, and more than 50% happens in private homes.

We can reverse this trend with a structural change in the organization of our kitchen. They are simple guidelines but they require a certain initial effort and above all a firm determination.

Did you know that if food waste represented a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, behind only China and the United States? This dramatic example shows the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for action. Governments, businesses and people must work like never before to meet the SDG 12.3 target of halving food loss and waste by 2030.


  • “Food loss”: that decrease in the quantity and quality of agricultural, forestry and fishing production destined for consumption that ultimately are not consumed. Food losses occur throughout the entire supply chain, from harvesting and planting to storage and processing or transportation (FAO, 2017).
  • “Food waste”: all those ready-to-eat and safe-to-eat foods that are discarded or neglected at the consumer level – regardless of the cause (HLPE, 2014).
  • “Food loss and waste”: a reduction at any level of the food production and consumption chain, in mass or quantity, of the food intended for consumption (FAO, 2017).
  • Unavoidable waste comes from food that cannot be eaten, such as bones, eggshells, or pineapple skins (Buchner et al. 2012).

    However, there are cultural differences in interpreting whether or not food was edible, and there is no consensus on how much food waste was actually edible based on the percentage of food wasted. Therefore, many researchers and statisticians have decided to include everything in the category of food waste for their studies.

    Currently we accumulate a huge mountain of garbage! Of the total global amount of waste, 44% consists of food and vegetable fraction, a high percentage of food waste (World Bank, 2018).

Food waste is the world's dumbest problem