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What’s the Difference Between Avoidable and Unavoidable Food Waste?

Want to know the difference between avoidable and unavoidable food waste? Read this blog to learn more about the food waste crisis.

When it comes to assessing your impact on the planet, all the jargon and guidance can get pretty confusing. While the food waste crisis is just as much of an issue as our exponential carbon emissions, far fewer people are aware of it.

Do you know the difference between avoidable and unavoidable food waste? Do you know how to mitigate your impact on the planet? If the answer is no, we’ve got you covered!

Keep reading to discover more about food waste and how we can end the crisis.

The Food Waste Crisis: An Essential Overview

So, what do you need to know about this pressing crisis? There are some key stats to be aware of, the main one being that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year. That’s a staggering figure, especially when further supported by these facts:

  • Up to ⅓ of all food produced globally is wasted
  • The amount of food wasted every year could feed 2 billion people
  • The value of wasted food is 1 trillion dollars (USD) per year

World hunger is one of the most significant problems of our time, but it isn’t the only issue made worse by food waste. The edible (and inedible) goods that pile up in global landfills contribute immensely to global warming and climate change.

When food decomposes, it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat inside the atmosphere. Instead of distributing food more wisely and managing our waste effectively, we’re slowly destroying the planet while allowing world hunger to continue.

Food waste is often viewed in two related categories: avoidable and unavoidable. Let’s take a closer look at both and discover the differences between them.

What Is Avoidable Food Waste?

Avoidable food waste incorporates food or drinks that were in an edible state at some point before disposal. Statistics show that vast amounts of the waste that ends up in landfills across the globe could have been avoided. For example, in the UK, 7 million tonnes of food and drink was disposed of in 2012 – and 4.2 million tonnes of it was avoidable.

Some examples of food that gets wasted regularly and unnecessarily:

  • Bread
  • Milk
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Cheese or other dairy products

Both households and commercial industries contribute to the immense amount of avoidable food waste, impacted by a variety of factors, including:

  • Lack of awareness or knowledge surrounding portion sizes
  • Lack of cooking expertise or efficient preparation
  • Over-purchasing or over-ordering in business settings
  • Lack of clarity surrounding best before or sell-by dates
  • Correct storage of food to elongate longevity

What Is Unavoidable Food Waste?

The term unavoidable is pretty self-explanatory, right?

Put simply, unavoidable food waste is the stuff we can’t eat. This includes meat bones, eggshells, fruit skins, tea bags and more. Plenty of waste in this category can be composted or recycled, reducing the impact of methane emissions on the planet.

Top Tips For Reducing Your Food Waste

We should all be worried about the impact of our food waste, especially if we’re going to save the planet before climate change becomes completely irreversible. We’ve compiled some of the best ways to reduce your avoidable waste and better dispose of the unavoidable leftovers.

Plan Your Meals

Preparation is key to everything in life, but it can have a hugely significant impact on cutting down food waste. Before you head out to the shops or place an order for delivery, plan out your meals for the week. Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need (and the amounts you require), as well as any snacks or drinks you plan to enjoy between meals.

Not only will this make your life easier, but it will also stop you from impulse purchasing or buying things you don’t need. You’ll be able to shop for everything you need while saving money (and the planet) in the process!

Shop Small and Local

Buying your groceries from local businesses has various benefits, especially when it comes to reducing food waste. Local produce dealers often get better crops than the supersized retailers, meaning their products are of better quality and last a lot longer.

You can pop out to the shop when you need something instead of buying in bulk and wasting what you don’t use. PLUS, shopping local is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as large shops rely heavily on transport to fulfill their customers’ demands.

Check the Dates

When you’ve got a busy schedule, time really does pass by in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, all the food you bought on grocery day has expired. As well as planning your meals in advance, you should also make an effort to check use-by and sell-by dates in the store.

If you know you’re going to eat something immediately, go for the products that expire soonest. If you’re hoping to cook it later in the week, reach further back on the shelves and grab the supplies with the best dates possible.

Compost or Recycle Your Leftovers

Composting or recycling your leftovers is a great way to minimize your methane impact. Unavoidable waste is – as the name suggests – unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it less harmful.

If you’ve not got the space or time for an outdoor composting station, why not invest in a FoodCycler instead? Ideal for small and large homes, they’re a compact, eco-friendly solution to food recycling. You can throw in your leftover food instead of feeding our ever-growing landfill crisis and feed your household plants with the amendment it produces.

There’s no denying that the food waste problem in Canada and beyond has reached crisis point, but there’s still time to make a difference. Take note of our tips, do your research and do your bit to save the planet.


A Note on Terminology

The FoodCycler® is a countertop electric food waste recycler that breaks down food scraps through a mechanical process into a dry, lightweight by-product that can be used in gardening applications as a fertilizer. The FoodCycler® and other electric food waste recyclers are not composters, nor do they produce compost or soil as they do not require additional microbes to break down food waste with bacteria. However, the term "electric composter" has been used to describe electric food waste recyclers.