Last Updated On October 02, 2020 / Written By Dakota Sheetz

The Devastating Impact Food Waste Has on Climate Change

Food waste and climate change probably don't sound like they are related. After all, how does throwing your squishy tomatoes into the rubbish bin lead to the polar bears having nowhere to live? It's more connected than you might think, so read on to find out how and what you can do to make a difference.

The Impact on the Environment

Food waste is a global problem that can occur during production, handling, storage, processing, distribution, or consumption. But it doesn't matter at which part of the process it's happening; the fact that it's happening is concerning. Food waste is having a dramatic effect on climate change.

Greenhouse Emissions
It's surprising to think that by throwing away a bunch of bruised bananas, you're contributing to greenhouse gases. However, that's the reality. Food waste that goes into landfill produces methane. This potent greenhouse gas heats the earth's atmosphere and leads to climate change and global warming.

If you think cars are bad enough, you may be shocked to know that food grown, transported, then wasted, produces as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles. What's more, our global food system creates a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. We have a significant problem on our hands.

The Impact on People
There are over 800 million people who go hungry every day, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. The amount of food waste we create would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world.

Restaurants and any hospitality business can make a real difference with how they handle their food waste. Redirecting edible food to school lunch programs, soup kitchens, charities, and food banks can make sure the most vulnerable members of our society don't go hungry.

Going Zero Waste

We haven't been doing right by our environment both in the hospitality industry and our home lives. We can be wasteful, and it's having a significant impact on our environment, our people, and our finances.

Benefits of Going Zero Waste
The benefits of going zero waste are far-reaching. Of course, your wallet can be happy, but so can the environment and the people around you.

First and foremost, going zero waste can save individuals and the world a significant sum of money. Less waste means less trash being picked up by trash companies. If you donate edible and safe food to charities, you can also claim tax benefits. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act even protects you from legal liability.

You also get the feel-good factor from being able to help others. Initiatives like Feeding America rely on food donations for vulnerable families in America. A restaurant being able to donate food they couldn't sell, but is still fit for consumption, can make a massive difference.

Just as important, though, are the benefits going zero waste has on climate change. Food in landfills creates methane gas. So, it goes without saying that less food in landfill equals less methane gas. Being less wasteful with food also means we save throughout the entire production line from water, gas, and energy through to fertilizer, pesticide, and land.

Initiatives for Zero Waste
Thankfully, we are beginning to see the error of our ways. More and more businesses are creating and participating in zero waste initiatives to curb the damage we've already done.

Composting is growing in popularity, both in-home and restaurant settings. The process of composting involves taking your waste and using it as a soil nutrient to produce a new generation of crops.

Something this simple can have a considerable impact, such as reducing methane emissions, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers, and enhancing water retention.

People are also becoming less picky with their produce. Previously, anything misshapen or mildly unappealing to look at was not considered fit for sale. Now, we're embracing the ugly carrots, the misshapen potatoes, and the imperfect avocados. Our food footprint can reduce as a result.


Food waste and climate change may not seem linked, but they go hand in hand. The less food waste you produce, the smaller your impact on the environment. From the hospitality worker and restaurant owner to the home consumer, everyone can do their part to reduce waste and save the planet.

  • Food waste can occur from the time the food product is grown or produced to the time you put it in your fridge.
  • The amount of waste we produce could feed the 800+ million people in the world who go hungry every day.
  • Our food waste in landfills produces as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles.
  • There are schemes available to help you reduce food waste and do your part for the environment.
  • Your restaurant can donate edible food without the risk of legal liability, thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act.