Climate Change Mitigation

GFN Member Food Banks Prevented 1.7 Million Tons of Carbon Emissions in 2021 by Reducing Food Loss and Waste

Members of The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN) are helping to avoid millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions by redistributing food to help families cope with the cost-of-living crisis.

Member food banks in nearly 50 countries recovered 514,537 metric tons of surplus food and distributed that food to 39 million people, according to our recent study, Food Banks for People and the Planet. Had the same volume of food gone to landfill, its decomposition would have emitted an estimated 1.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent, a significant proportion of which would have been methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The emissions saved represent an increase from 2019, when members of the Network prevented 1.487 billion kilograms of CO2e through food redirection.“Our figures show how food banks play a critical role not only in improving food security but also in making food systems more sustainable through reducing food loss and waste,” said Lisa Moon, president and CEO of The Global FoodBanking Network.

“The emissions saved by GFN members through food recovery has increased since 2019, indicating a growing recognition for the benefits that food banks can bring for people and planet.”

More than three billion people are unable to afford a healthy diet, according to a recent UN report, yet 1.6 billion tons of food are lost and wasted every year. Experts forecast that food loss and waste will continue to rise by almost 2 percent a year to 2030.

Food waste accounts for 8 percent of all global greenhouse gases, according to figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), generating the equivalent of 4.4 billion tons a year. If emissions from food landfills were a country, they would rank third after the United States and China in terms of environmental impact.

“The world must do more to reduce food loss and waste to meet our global goals to end hunger and tackle climate change by 2030,” said Katie Pearmine, associate director of global sourcing partnerships at The Global FoodBanking Network.

“Food banks provide a unique win-win solution that connects surplus food with people who need it, reducing both food insecurity and emissions.”

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