Around 360,000 tonnes of waste milk is poured down British drains each year and this creates greenhouse gas equivalent to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide which is the same as that emitted by 20,000 cars.
The study concluded that 99% of milk thrown away by British consumers is designated “avoidable waste”. Half of this is a result of milk being discarded for being sour or past its sell by date and the other half is because too much had been served to the consumer.
The study also found that if poultry consumption was cut as has happened in Japan who use around half as much as those in the West then this would be equivalent to taking around 10 million cars off the road permanently.
A significant impact would be made on greenhouse gases which are linked to climate change if we could reduce food waste and cut back on meat and dairy products in favour of vegetables. The agricultural explosion has created a global rise in nitrous oxide which is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The study was lead by Dr David Reay of Edinburgh University who published results of the study on nitrous oxide in the journal Nature Climate Change. He said “nitrous oxide is the major greenhouse gas from agriculture. It stands out as the gas you can really reduce in terms of emissions if you can cut down on agricultural waste and increase agricultural efficiency. Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world’s population increases”.
Since 1990 nitrous oxide emissions have risen significantly and are expected to increase more rapidly by 2030 due to population growth as more food has to be produced. This is mainly because of agricultural expansion and the use of nitrogen fertilisers. Researchers said that growing cereals for animal foodstock and biofuels would boost nitrous oxide levels still further.
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