In the lexicon of climate change, food waste seldom gets importance. But the fact is that its impact is massive. Food, in fact, is the highest category of waste dumped in landfills and is the third largest source of emissions. More than 85 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from land-filled food waste are due to actions taking place before food waste is dumped in a landfill.
And sadly, India is not different from the rest of the world when it comes to food wastage. According to the Food Waste Index Report 2021, 50 kg of food is wasted per person annually in Indian homes, a sad fact when hunger has been identified as ‘serious’ in the country and the Global Hunger Index 2021 ranked India at 101 out of a total 116 countries.
Apart from mitigating hunger, curbing food waste is crucial to the environment as well. “Critical resources like land, water, and fuel are used to produce, process, transport, sell, and dispose food. For example, one apple that is thrown away wastes 125 litres of water used to produce it. Food decomposing in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas, leading to a global warming effect 25 times higher than carbon dioxide,” points out Sandeep Bhatia, Country Head - Capgemini Invent, India as he explains what a recent Capgemini Research Institute global report, ‘Reflect, Rethink, Reconsider: Why food waste is everybody’s problem’ revealed, and how the company is helping food companies to use technology to help the issue.
According to the report, globally 72 per cent of organisations do not partner with agri-tech companies to help farmers and suppliers cut their waste, and 64 per cent do not work with local farmers and suppliers to reduce wastage in storage and transport stages.
Smart storage solutions
Only 28 per cent companies have invested in IoT-based smart storage solutions for reduction of food waste, and 31 per cent in intelligent routing solutions. Apart from this, only 13 per cent of food manufacturers have scaled implementation of process/technology to reduce waste during product line changeovers and machinery recalibration. And only 36 per cent of retailers are using technology-based dynamic pricing solutions to tackle food waste in the stores.
Which means that a lot still needs to be done. Bhatia says that Capgemini has stepped into this space. “We assist businesses in defining their purpose and crafting concrete, measurable and useful strategies for waste reduction, net zero emissions, and fair trade. We develop operating models that lower energy usage and assist organisations in reducing waste through accurate sales prediction models. Technology acts as the foundation for monitoring and collaboration and can be scaled and integrated throughout the value chain to prevent food wastage,” he concludes.