NIS 8.8 billion
Food Waste in Household Consumption
Accordingly, household food waste in Israel in 2021 amounted to approximately 950 thousand tons (23), valued at about NIS 8.8 billion. Beyond this direct cost, the environmental cost of food waste in the household sector stands at NIS 1 billion (24).
Household Food Waste, NIS per month
The main causes of household food waste: preparing too much food and food expiration
Preparing more than is needed, generally food that was cooked or prepared unnecessarily and was not consumed, often due to overbuying.
Food that expires before being fully consumed. It should be noted that expired food is connected to overbuying. The desire to have a variety of available food options, combined with the uncertainty surrounding the amount of food that will actually be consumed by the household members, creates a situation in which some of the food that was bought expires before it is consumed.
Buying more food than is consumed, thereby increasing food waste. Staying home for long periods of time due to the Covid-19 crisis and the uncertainty surrounding the situation led to an increase in household food consumption.
Other causes of food waste in household consumption include damaged or spilled food and food that was not prepared or cooked properly.
Household food waste is not unique to Israel, and waste rates in Israel are comparable to those in other developed countries. In Israel, as in other western countries, the highest waste rate is in the fruit and vegetable category, with 23% of the fruits and vegetables bought in Israel going to waste, compared to 28% in the United States and 19% in Europe. The relatively high waste rate for fruit and vegetables primarily stems from their short shelf life and the fact that households do not take measures to ensure optimal storage conditions.
Households Annually Discard
In regard to meat, fish, and dairy products, the waste rate is lower and stands at approximately 8%. The lower waste rate for these products stems, among other things, from the fact that it is possible to extend their shelf life by freezing them, and because these products are more expensive per unit of weight, which creates an additional incentive for households not to waste them as much. The waste rate for these products is similar to that in Europe, and lower than that in the United States.
In the grains and legumes category, the waste rate is approximately 14%. This waste rate is the result of combining waste rates of products with a short shelf life such as bread and baked goods, and products with a relatively long shelf life, such as raw grains and legumes.
An International Comparison of Rates of Household Food Waste
the annual household impact of food waste on the cost of living
In Israel, where household food expenditure is relatively high by international standards (26), food waste is one of the factors that contributes to the high cost of living. Food waste effects the cost of living due to overspending on food and by increasing the cost of food. The overall impact on the cost of living is an additional NIS 6,900 per household annually.
Cost of living – Overspending:
Food bought and thrown away as waste constitutes a direct household cost. On average, the direct monthly loss (excluding external costs (27)) due to food waste stands at NIS 295 per household, and accordingly, the annual loss stands at NIS 3,500 per household. The costs of collecting and disposing of the waste in landfill is ultimately passed onto consumers in the form of increased municipal property taxes and fees, leading to an additional annual cost of NIS 200 per household.
Food Waste: Impact on the Cost of Living
Cost of living – Higher food prices:
In addition to a household’s direct expenditure on food that was bought but not consumed, the cost of living is affected by food waste throughout all stages of the value chain prior to household consumption. In economic terms, the cost of food reflects the total cost of production and sales at all stages of the value chain: growing, production, packaging, transport, and sales. Therefore, the price of food in supermarkets incorporates the value of food waste in the retail sector. Similarly, wholesale food prices reflect food waste in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Ultimately, the cost of waste at all stages of the value chain is passed on to the consumer, leading to an additional annual cost of NIS 3,000 due to an 11% increase in food prices.
Cost of living – Environmental impact of greenhouse gas and air pollution:
The environmental impact caused by food waste has an indirect effect on the cost of living. Air pollution negatively affects human health and the environment, a cost the economy bears, mainly in the form of health expenditure. External costs resulting from these negative environmental factors, reflect the monetary value of a loss of societal wellbeing due to pollutant emission (28), were calculated and estimated at around NIS 1.4 billion for the Israeli economy in 2021, about NIS 210 per household [see chapter 9].
When organic waste is buried in landfill, it decomposes and emits methane, which is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) 84 times greater in the short term (20 years) and 28 times greater in the long term (100 years) than that of carbon dioxide (29).
According to findings of the 2021 National Food Waste Report, 955 thousand tons of household food waste was transported to landfill, requiring sanitation trucks to make another 300 thousand trips throughout the year and thereby increasing air pollution, road congestion, noise pollution and the risk of accidents. Therefore, beyond the NIS 8.8 billion in household food waste and the NIS 0.5 billion it costs to dispose of it, the economy incurred additional costs due to the effects of traffic congestion and the resulting impact on the environment.