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Our food is damaging the environment

Food wastage is one of the most critical problems the region faces, especially during Ramadan. The demand for meat during the holy month increases by almost 50%, similar is the fate of other related food items like vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Sadly, almost one-third of these ends up as waste.
According to Dubai Carbon, the UAE ranks among the top nations for per capita waste generation in the world. Roughly, 38% of the food prepared every day in the emirate is wasted, which jumps to around 60% during Ramadan. The decomposition process of food waste emits methane gas, which is reportedly 25 times more damaging than CO2.

To address the issue of food wastage this Ramadan, Dubai Carbon has launched a campaign to educate people on how to reduce their ‘foodprint’. The campaign aims to encourage people to be smart shoppers as well as eco-friendly eaters and reduce their carbon foodprint in the process. Dubai Carbon is encouraging all residents and visitors to share their stories on its social media pages with hashtags #‎CarbonFOODprint, #‎kNOwWaste , and #‎ThinkEatSave. The think tank is also collaborating with hotels and restaurants to collect and data regarding food waste, and discussing ways to reduce its impact on the environment.

“An average person in Europe generates around 1.2kg of waste a day, which is almost double in the UAE with per capita waste generation being 2.7kg per day. However, this doubles to 5.4kg a day during Ramadan, which is the amount of waste we generate to be hospitable to our guests. Clearly this is something that needs to be addressed, and Ramadan seems to be the perfect time for that,” says Ivano Ianelli, the CEO of Dubai Carbon.
Speaking about some of the everyday solutions to reduce waste Ivano Ianelli said that planning meals ahead and using shopping lists to avoid impulse buys can contribute to the reduction of waste. He also advises that sharing leftover food with family, friends, neighbours or delivering excessive food to the less fortunate people not only feeds the needy, but also reduces a considerable amount of waste produced.

Food amounts to 40% of the average household bin, whereas there are many options to better manage excess food. A number of tips from Dubai Carbon include “buying loose, which allows you to buy only required quantities; selecting products that do not have an extra layer of packaging and composting food waste. Home composting can potentially divert up to 150 kg of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities,” he advised.

Food wastage is generated across the different stages of the food value chain, including transportation, either by air, land or sea, as well as packaging. Packaging materials are the first to consume virgin resources that often are only applied for cosmetic purposes and may or may not be recycled again. Methane emissions from landfills represent the largest source of GHG emissions from the entire waste sector, contributing around 700 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.