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Analysing global food waste problem: pinpointing the facts and estimating the energy content


Food waste is a global problem. Each year food worth billions of dollars is wasted by the developed economies of the world. When food is wasted, the problem does not end at that point. More than 95% of the food waste ends at landfill sites, where converted into methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses by anaerobic digestion. The impact of food waste to climate change is catastrophic. Food waste problem tends to increase in next 25 years due to economic and population growth mainly in Asian countries. In addition, when food wastes buried at landfill sites their energy content is lost. Although food waste is a huge problem, its global size and extent has recently become a hot topic in the academic community. This paper summarises the size of the global food waste problem together with the estimation of the amount of energy lost when food wastes dumped at landfill sites. Calculations in this study also revealed that energy lost at landfill sites equals to 43% of the delivered energy used for the preparation of foods in the US, 37% of the hydroelectric power generation of Japan, and more than 100% of the current annual renewable energy demand of UK industries.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Carol Sze Ki Lin.

Additional information

This article is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ruohang Wang, our collaborator and beloved friend, who passed away in July 2010

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Melikoglu, M., Lin, C.S.K. & Webb, C. Analysing global food waste problem: pinpointing the facts and estimating the energy content. cent.eur.j.eng 3, 157–164 (2013).

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  • Energy content
  • Environment
  • Food waste
  • Greenhouse Gases
  • Hunger
  • Waste management