Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste

Make your Christmas commitment to keep food waste out of landfills!

©© FAO/Cristiano Minichiello


The Holiday Season is rapidly approaching with annual Christmas and New Year celebrations among friends and families set to take place around much of the world. Despite what is usually a festive period, for many, there are still numerous concerns and worry due to the current ongoing global crises. These range from, and may extend beyond, the persisting knock-on implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, energy crisis, and rising food prices. High inflation rates, energy costs and increasing consumer food prices stemming from a combination of these crises are pushing more and more people towards poverty, decreasing consumer spending power and having a negative impact on access to healthy diets. An estimated 828 million people across the globe are hungry today, and 3.1 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet (FAO et al., 2022).

In response to the rising cost of food in particular, consumers are seeking ways in which to reduce their economic expenditure. A significant and relatively simple means to reduce your spending and save money (among additional benefits) this holiday season, and throughout the year, is to minimise the amount of food wasted in your household. Currently 17 % of the total amount of food produced globally is wasted at the retail, food service and household levels with a majority of this waste (61%) taking place in households (UNEP 2021).

Not only is wasted food a waste of money, but it also represents a waste of the natural resources, energy, land and water, and labour that went into producing, processing and transporting the food to the retail market for purchase by consumers.

Food loss and waste (FLW) account for 8 - 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to an unstable climate and extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding, negatively impacting food security and nutrition. In particular, the rotting of food waste in landfills and in open ditches, contributes significantly to the production of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is twenty times more potent than the carbon dioxide.

As consumers, we can all contribute to reducing the amounts of food waste that go to landfills, by changing our attitudes and behaviours toward reducing food waste in our homes. Each one of us can make a difference.

Reducing your food waste will not only help you save you money, but will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to the overall sustainability of the food system.

Addressing the reduction of food waste is critical not just this holiday season, but in our daily lives whether at home, while attending social gatherings, or dining out. Good food practices and behaviours are crucial.

Below are a few tips on some of the actions that you can take to reduce food waste during this holiday season:

  • Prepare a shopping list

    When grocery shopping over the holiday period, make a list of the food items you will need. This will help you buy only the items you require and prevent purchasing unnecessary duplicates.

  • Have a plan

    If you are hosting a social gathering with friends or family where food will be served, make sure you know how many guests to expect and how much food to prepare. Estimate, as realistically as possible, portion sizes and account for your guests’ preferences and any dietary requirements.

  • Store foods appropriately

    During the holiday season, when there is the likelihood of purchasing larger quantities of food and a greater variety of foods than usual, take care to ensure that each food item is stored correctly according to its specific storage requirement. Depending on the particular food type, this may be in the refrigerator, in the freezer, in a cupboard or in an airtight container to maximise shelf life.

  • Food labelling

    It is important to understand when the food you have purchased or stored becomes unsafe for consumption.  This necessitates reading and understanding the date labels on the packaged food products that you have purchased. “Use-by” dates indicate when a food is no longer safe to eat.  Food may still be consumed safely after their “best-before” date if they are properly stored in sealed packaging.

  • Smaller portions

    If you are attending an event or dinner, ask for a smaller portion to avoid on-plate food waste if you do not think you will finish everything. Similarly, if you are serving food at a social gathering, ask your guests if they would prefer a normal sized portion or a smaller amount of food. They can always have seconds if they do finish all!

  • Consume leftovers

    Following dinner parties, there is often some amount of surplus food leftover that is still good to eat. When this is the case, pack the leftovers in sealed containers, or wrap them in aluminium foil or freezer wrap as appropriate and store them for consumption at a later date to avoid discarding them as food waste. Consuming leftovers for subsequent meals or snacks will also save you money, as it would help you to maximise the use of previously purchased food. 
    To help, innovative and tasty recipes can be found online (some examples here).

  • Sharing food

    Surplus food that is still safe for consumption can be donated to local food assistance charities such as food banks for redistribution. As well as reducing your food waste, this will considerably benefit others who are in need of food. Many food banks welcome food donations to help meet the increasing demand for their services.

  • Composting

    Lastly, inedible food and food scraps that cannot be donated or consumed at a later date can be composted to        recycle key nutrients back into the soil.

Let’s make an effort to reduce food waste, for our benefit and that of the planet. We can all do our part to reduce our food waste to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help alleviate food insecurity, and save money.

We invite you to visit the Food is Never Waste page on this Platform and join the # 123 Pledge to Reduce Food Loss and Waste. Share with us your Pledge commitment by taking a photo of yourself with a dedicated #123 Food Loss and Waste Pledge for Climate Action. We will be happy to share it with others through our social media channels!


Read more

Interview with Rosa Rolle: “Each individual as a consumer can make a difference in reducing their own food waste” - CEMAS


Relevant resources accessible in the TPFLW

2022 call to action for reducing food loss and waste by FAO Goodwill Ambassador Diarmuid Gavin - Video

Reducing food loss and waste plays a key role in transforming agrifood systems - Video

UNEP, Food Waste Index Report, 2021

FAO, SOFI Report, 2022