International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste Date in the current year: September 29, 2024

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW) is observed annually on September 29. It was initiated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and is one of the international days observed by the UN.

Every year, about 14% of food produced in the world gets lost between harvest and retail. Significant quantities are also wasted in retail and by consumers, resulting in roughly one third of all the food produced for human consumption getting lost or wasted. This means that water, land, energy, labor, capital and other resources that were used to produce the wasted food go to waste, too. According to estimates, 38% of energy consumed in the food production globally is utilized to produce lost or wasted food. Besides, food waste disposed in landfills emits greenhouse gas and thus contributes to climate change.

The number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly but steadily rising over the past few years, and yet many tons of edible food are lost or go uneaten and wasted every day. So reducing food losses and waste is essential for combating world hunger. It also helps prevent the depletion of the natural resource base, as well as reduces unnecessary pressure on the environment and greenhouse gas emissions.

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste was declared by a UN General Assembly resolution in December 2019 and observed for the first time in 2020. The fact that the first ever observance took place during the COVID-19 pandemic was quite symbolic, since the pandemic caused the largest global recession in history and made the world realize that we need to transform the way we produce and consume our food.

The main goal of IDAFLW is to bring individuals, organizations, businesses and governments around the world together to reduce food loss and waste. Literally everyone can make a contribution by starting to treat their food more carefully (stop buying unnecessary food, store food correctly, make the most of leftovers, etc.), but it requires coordinated actions of authorities, businesses and organizations to successfully solve the problem at the global level.

For example, infrastructure, technologies and innovations are instrumental for increasing food system efficiency and reducing food losses and waste. It is also important to find ways to facilitate investments in food loss and waste reduction, as well as shape and finance new business models that will help reduce food loss and waste.

It is important to keep in mind that food loss and waste should be reduced at all stages of the food production, sale and consumption chain: reductions in food loss that occur closer to the farm help alleviate stress on the environment and address food insecurity, whereas food waste reductions that occur in the supply chain and at the consumer level contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

IDAFLW events and activities are coordinated by the Food and Agricultural Organization in collaboration with the UN Environment Program.

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