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Massively Produced Food Waste in Indonesia. What is the Impact?

Hyundai Motorstudio Senayan Park 2022.07.18
Massively Produced Food Waste in Indonesia. What is the Impact?

In Indonesia, food waste can reach 23 to 48 million metric tons every year. According to Bappenas data, the average Indonesian throws out about 100-200 kilograms of food waste per year.

This food waste is generated when it is still in the processing, storage, transportation, and sale stages, especially in grains such as rice and corn. The rest, food waste is produced from leftover food that is thrown from the dining table.

In fact, if utilized, various nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and protein, as well as carbohydrates can meet almost 100% of the needs of the malnourished people in Indonesia.

Unmanaged Food Waste Generates Carbon Emissions

Apart from the loss of nutrients, food waste has a negative impact on various sectors. One of them is the economic sector. Study estimates Indonesia loses around 5% of GDP or Gross Domestic Product equivalent to IDR 213-551 trillion ($15-39 billion) per year due to food waste

In addition, food waste often ends up in landfills. Creating methane gas which has an impact on climate change and global warming.

Over the past 20 years, the total gas emissions of carbon emissions from food waste amounted to 1,700 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent. In fact, about 58% of food waste comes from leftovers on the dining table that are not consumed.

Indonesia is the Second Largest Food Waste Producer in the World

According to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Indonesia is the second largest food waster in the world, after Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, per person wastes about 427 kg of food per year. Meanwhile, Indonesians waste almost 300 kg of food per person every year.

If calculated, 13 million tons of food waste in Indonesia is wasted every year. This amount of food waste is able to feed about 28 million people.

The Impact of Food Waste on the Environment

The impact of food waste is serious, with millions of people still suffering from malnutrition and poverty. There are about 11% of the population living below the poverty line, and about 8% of the population suffer from malnutrition.

Below are the impacts of unmanaged food waste on the environment:

1. Loss of Biodiversity

Food waste has an impact on the loss of biodiversity around the world. Because, to maximize agricultural output, sometimes farmers clear land by cutting down forests or burning forests.

This destroys the natural habitats of birds, fish, mammals and amphibians. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers also contribute to water pollution and soil conditions. Thus, affecting the life of animals and plants.

2. Waste of 1/3 of the World's Fertile Land

According to research food waste piled up to take up 1.4 billion hectares of land. If such a large area could be utilized, it could become a third of fertile agricultural land or a healthy green area.

3. Waste of Water

Food waste also contributes to water wastage. For example, in 1 kg of beef that is discarded, it requires 50,000 liters of water during the production process. Likewise, when you throw away a glass of cow's milk, 1000 liters of water is wasted.

4. Accelerating Climate Change

The food waste that is disposed of is equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of carbon gas emissions. This accelerates the impact of climate change . Research also says food waste is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases such as methane in the world.

5. Economic Consequences

In addition to the environmental impact, food waste also results in a waste of money. According to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), Indonesia's economic losses due to food waste reach Rp 500 trillion per year.

How to Overcome the Impact of Food Waste

Actually, there are many opportunities for private companies as well as state companies to solve the food waste problem. For example, implementing optimal storage space, and food quality standards.

In addition, educating the public so that they are not wasteful in buying or processing food can also reduce the impact of food waste.

Here are some ways to deal with the impact of food waste:

1. Apply a Healthy and Sustainable Diet

Sometimes cooking healthy food yourself is very challenging. However, you can use simple and practical recipes in various media to try with friends or family.

2. Buying Food As Needed

Make a weekly menu plan. Then, you can make a shopping list so you don't spend too much time buying. You not only save on food, but also save money.

3. Store Food Wisely

Move old food products to the front of the cupboard. Meanwhile, products whose expiration time is still long are on the back. Use airtight containers to keep food fresh in the refrigerator.

4. Read Food Labels

There is a significant difference between "Best Before" and "Use By". Sometimes, food can still be eaten after the "Best Before" date. Meanwhile, the “Use By” date informs when the product is not safe to eat.

5. Using Leftovers as Ingredients for Other Cooking

If you can't finish all the food, freeze it in the freezer to eat later or use it as another food ingredient.

How to Invite Youth Generation to Care about Food Waste Management?

Currently there are many communities or special platforms that invite the younger generation to participate in food waste management. For example, by collecting excess food that is still fit for consumption in restaurants, hotels, markets, or industrial areas.

What is clear is that there are still many easy and inexpensive ways to manage food waste, rather than just ending up in landfills. Collaboration between the government and various parties is the key to sustainable food waste management.