On June 2, NHK (Japan’s national public TV channel) aired a program about Second Harvest Japan’s efforts to salvage edible food that would otherwise go to waste. While Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate is only 39 percent, more than 30 percent of food (on a calorie basis) is destroyed each year in the country. Of course, food waste exists not only in Japan but throughout the world. And there are programs in countries to address food waste.
For example, the European Parliament passed a resolution called Zero Waste 2020 that aims to reduce food waste close to zero by 2020. In Europe, It is estimated that about 50% of produced food is destroyed while at the same time there is an estimated 50 million people at risk of poverty.
In Hong Kong, Friends of the Earth, a local environmental NGO, surveyed the level of food waste in supermarkets. They found that supermarkets destroyed an estimated 29 tons of food each day. This article mentions how a local food bank could use this food if donated.
As a measure to reduce food waste, changes in legal systems like best-before date labeling are discussed now in many countries. In the U.K., the government has been working to make clear the difference between best-before dates and use-by dates.
Food waste is not typically the main reason for food banks to operate. But, the impact of food banking can reduce food waste as well as feed the hungry in the world.