What is Food Waste?

 

Definitions:

Food Waste = when food is not used to its greatest potential

Methane = a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more toxic to the environment than carbon dioxide. This means that one molecule of methane corresponds to the same environmental impact as 23 molecules of carbon dioxide.

Carbon Dioxide = a greenhouse gas that is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels

Ozone Layer = a layer surrounding our Earth which protects us from the harmful rays of the sun

 

 

Food Waste is when food is not used to its greatest potential. Much of this food waste ends up in landfills; since there is not enough oxygen in the landfill environment, this food does not biodegrade naturally and instead produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more toxic for the environment than carbon dioxide.

 

In order to see how toxic methane is for the environment, image you had two buckets. These buckets represent the ozone layer, a layer surrounding our Earth which protects us from the harmful rays of the sun. Over time, naturally, greenhouse gases get trapped in the ozone layer; but when the ozone layer becomes too full with these gases, global temperatures increase, a phenomenon known as global warming.

 

In these two buckets, you fill the two different color marbles – red and blue; in one, you fill red marbles, representing carbon dioxide and in the other, you fill blue, representing methane. As one molecule of methane is equal to 23 molecules of carbon dioxide, you fill the second bucket with bags of 23 blue marbles.

 

two buckets diagram
As the two buckets are being filled, you notice that the methane bucket fills up quicker.
In our atmosphere, the same holds true. When methane is introduced, it “fills” the ozone layer at a faster rate than carbon dioxide; this makes it much more toxic to our environment.
But food waste has an even greater environmental impact than just the production of methane! Check out the page Aspects of Food Waste to learn more about the different types of waste we are dealing with when we talk about food waste!

 

CO2 = CH4

One molecule of methane is equal to 23 molecules of carbon dioxide

global methane emissions

Much of the world’s methane emissions come from agricultural waste, a direct link to food waste.