The money issue

Food waste is a $1.5 trillion problem and $700 billion opportunity

The economic cost of food waste is currently valued at $1 trillion and may increase to $1.5 trillion by 2030 at current rates (BCG, 2018; FAO, 2014). Wasting food means wasting money. Money that was invested in harvesting, transporting, packaging, cooling, and buying food, and which will all eventually end up in the bin. 


  • A single ton of organic waste represents a financial loss that directly affects the family budget, equal to €50 per household on average (Buchner et al., 2012)
  • An average of household of four spends $1800 annually on food that is thrown away. For many households, it's about 20% of the food they buy. It's like walking out of the grocery store with five bags, dropping one in the parking lot, and not even bothering to pick it up (NRDC, 2012)
  • Reducing household food waste has the most significant benefits for national economies, although this depends on the economic structure of the country in question (European Commission, 2018)
  • Every month, each UK household throws out, on average, £60 worth of food – roughly equivalent to 24 meals (The Guardian, 2013)


  • Companies that lead in reducing their environmental footprint tend to boast margins that are 3.3 percentage points higher than those of other companies (BCG, 2018)
  • The U.S. spends $218 billion producing, transporting and discarding food that isn’t eaten; minimising this waste by just 20% would yield $100 billion in societal economic benefits. Food waste in US amounts to $218 billion, equivalent to 1.3% of its GDP (FAO, 2016)
  • Food services and hospitality sector can save $7 for every $1 invested in reducing food waste (Clowes et al., 2019; Clowes et al., 2018)
  • About 25% of all food that passes through hotel kitchens is thrown out as food waste, and for every dinner the hotel serves, about 350 grams is binned (Eco-business, 2017)
  • In 2011 the total cost of food waste generated within the UK hospitality and food services sector was estimated at £2.5 billion per annum (WRAP, 2011)

The total cost of food waste 

Reducing food waste can generate a triple win for the economy, for food security, and for the environment (Hanson & Mitchell, 2017). Overall. the total cost of food waste is estimated at $ 2.6 trillion annually, roughly equivalent to the GDP of France (FAO, 2016).

  • Economic: $ 1 trillion
  • Environmental: $ 700 billion
  • Social: $ 900 billion