NIS 8.2 billion

The environmental cost of household food waste is NIS 900 million
The environmental cost of household food waste is NIS 900 million

Food Waste in the Household Consumption Sector

In Israel, expenditures on household food consumption is a central component of each household’s monthly expenses, and averages approximately NIS 2,000 per month per household (not including alcohol, soft drinks, and meals eaten outside of the home), which is about 17% of a household’s total expenditures.
Findings of the 2019 National Food Waste and Rescue Report reveal that Israeli households wasted approximately 910,000 tons of food 28, worth approximately NIS 8.2 billion. In addition to this direct cost, the environmental cost of food waste in the household sector is approximately NIS 0.9 billion (29).

28. Based on food value chain model developed by BDO, using weighted data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2019, a national survey of the composition of household garbage conducted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection for 2012-13, and research on household garbage in Israel conducted by Dr. Ofira Ayalon and Efrat Elimelech, “What gets measured gets managed: A new method of ‎measuring household food waste.” Waste Management, 76 (2018): 68-81‎‏.‏
29. The environmental cost is not included in the market price of the wasted food – meaning that the natural resources that were discarded as the result of food waste in this segment are excluded.
This waste accounts for approximately 13% of an average Israeli household’s total expenditure on food. This means that Israeli households discard food valued at NIS 3,300 each year (equivalent to one-and-a-half months of a household’s food consumption).‎ On a monthly basis, a household’s financial loss from food waste is NIS 275 (not including the cost from other stages in the value chain). Of the loss, fruit and vegetables account for NIS 124, grains and legumes account for NIS 86, meat, eggs and fish account for NIS 43, and milk and dairy account for NIS 22.

Household Food Waste, NIS per month

Food waste during household consumption is caused by a combination of consumer habits and a culture of abundance. It is also influenced by how food is stored and kept fresh. The value of the food wasted by households is approximately NIS 8.2 billion per year.

Households Annually Discard

Primary causes of household food waste – Surplus preparation and expired food

The main factors causing food waste in household consumption are: (30)

1. Surplus preparation of food Preparing more than is needed, usually excess food that is cooked or prepared unnecessarily and not consumed.

2. Expired food Food that reaches its expiration date before being fully consumed. It should be noted that food reaching expiration before being consumed is related to excess purchasing. The desire to vary types of food, combined with uncertainty about the amount that will be consumed in the household, combine to create a situation in which some of the food purchased expires before it is consumed.

3. Damaged or spilled food Food that has spoiled due to poor storage, poor cooking or human error.

Other causes of food waste in household consumption are poor preparation or cooking, and excessive purchasing.

30. Household Food Waste survey of 500 households, representative of the Israeli population, conducted by Leket Israel and BDO, with the assistance of Geocartography Research Institute, in January 2019.

Food waste during household consumption is not unique to Israel, and the rates of loss in Israel are comparable to other developed countries. The highest percentage of waste in Israel, as in other western countries, is from fruit and vegetables, with 23% of fruit and vegetables purchased in Israel being discarded, compared to 28% in the US and 19% in Europe. The relatively high rate of loss for fruit and vegetables is primarily due to their short shelf life and a households’ failure to adhere to optimal storage conditions.

The rate of loss for meat, fish and dairy products is lower and stands at approximately 8%, in part because these products are more expensive per unit of weight, which creates a higher economic incentive for reducing loss. The rate of loss for these products is similar to that of Europe, and lower than the rate in the US.

For grains and legumes, the rate of loss is approximately 14%, while it stems from the combined result of the short shelf life of products like bread and pastries, and the relatively long shelf life of raw grains and legumes.

International Comparison: Rate of Household Food Waste

Rate of Household Food Waste for Selected Products

Source: BDO estimates

NIS 6,575

Overall effect of food waste on the cost of living per household annually

In Israel, where expenditure on food is relatively high by international standards (31), food waste contributes to the high cost of living. Such waste impacts the cost of living by leading to excessive expenditures for food while also having an effect on food prices. The overall impact on the cost of living is an additional NIS 6,5‎75 per household annually.

Cost of Living – Surplus expenditure: Food purchased and discarded as waste directly influences the cost to a household. On average, the direct month loss (not including external costs (32)) from discarded food was determined to be NIS 275 per household, for an annual loss of NIS 3,300 per household. The costs of waste collection and landfill disposal ultimately come from the consumers’ pockets as well, in the form of municipal property taxes and fees, adding an additional NIS 200 expenditure per household to dispose of food waste.

31. Economist Global Food Security Index, 2018
32. External costs that were not included: the cost of collecting food waste and transporting it to landfill, the cost of GHG and air pollutant emissions, the increase in retail price due to food waste in supermarket chains and the increase in wholesale price due to waste in agriculture and industry.

Cost of Living – Higher food prices: In addition to a households’ direct surplus expenditure for food purchased but not consumed, food wasted during all stages of the value chain prior to household consumption influences the cost of living. In economic terms, the cost of food reflects total production and sales costs at all stages of the value chain: growing, production, packaging, transport and marketing. Therefore, the price of food in supermarkets incorporates the value of food waste in the retail sector. Similarly, the price of wholesale food reflects its loss in the agricultural and industrial sectors. Ultimately, the cost of waste at all stages of the value chain is passed on to the consumer, causing an additional annual cost of NIS 2,900, in the form of an 11% increase in food prices.

Cost of Living – Environmental impact of GHG and air pollutant emissions: The environmental impact that accompanies food waste indirectly effects the cost of living. The emission of pollutants into the air has negative external impact on human health and the environment, the cost of which is borne by the economy as a whole, mainly as health expenditures. In order to take these into account and reflect their impact, external costs resulting from these negative environmental impacts were calculated. These external costs reflect the monetary value of the loss of societal welfare from the emission of pollutants (33). These environmental impacts are estimated at NIS 1 billion for the Israeli economy in 2019, which is NIS 175 per household on average.

Beyond the direct impact on cost of living and cost of disposal to landfills, other external costs are incurred by the public for the transport of waste, fuel combustion, road congestion, environmental damage caused by GHG emissions, and soil contamination. When organic waste is buried in landfills, it decomposes and emits methane gas, a GHG whose global warming potential (GWP) is 84 times greater than that of carbon dioxide, in the short term (20 years), and 28 times in the long term (100 years (34)).

33. MoEP, The Green Book: Estimating and Measuring External Costs of Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, 2020.
34. IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report

Household Food Waste in Israel Per Year

Food Waste: Impact on the Cost of Living

According to findings of the 2019 National Food Waste and Rescue Report, ‎910,000 tons ‎ of household food waste in Israel was disposed of in landfills, causing 290,000 additional trips per year by sanitation trucks, thereby increasing air pollution, road congestion, noise and the risk of accidents. Therefore, beyond the NIS 8.2 billion value of household food waste itself and NIS 0.5 billion for its disposal, additional external costs are also incurred due to the effects of traffic congestion and resulting impacts to the environment.

Lessons from Around the World – Measures to Reduce Household Food Waste

Various countries have undertaken efforts to reduce household food waste. These efforts are being made on several levels, including: increasing consumer awareness of food waste, education to prevent food loss, the use of technology to reduce waste, taxation and more.

In 2013, the British Food Rescue Organization – WRAP: Waste and Resources Action Programme began the “Love Food Hate Waste” project, a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of reducing food loss and helping people take action on the issue. The project included digital publications and community events, such as cooking classes. As part of the project, a dedicated website was created, containing information to help facilitate the reduction of food waste. Topics included, for example, calibrating refrigerators to optimal temperatures, the importance of preparing a shopping list, etc.

WRAP examined the effects of its project in west London over a six-month period from October 2012 to March 2013. At the end of the campaign, the quantity of food waste dropped by 14%, from 2.6 kg per household in the week before the campaign, to 2.2 kg per household in the week after the campaign. A cost-benefit analysis of the project revealed that every ₤1.00 invested in the campaign resulted in an ₤8.00 savings from the reduction of food waste.

In Israel, the Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce Department at the Volcani Institute has published guidelines on the preservation of fruit and vegetables for households (35).

Technological means provide another path towards reducing food waste. In the Netherlands, research was conducted on optimal temperatures for extending the shelf life of various food products. By changing the storage temperatures, researchers were able to significantly extend the shelf life of the products.

An additional way to reduce household waste is through taxation. In many countries, what’s known as the “Pay as You Throw” method has been employed. Countries currently implementing this method include the US, Canada (36), Austria, Germany, Spain, Japan and others. Through this method, the fee each household pays to the municipality or waste collection agency depends on the amount of unsorted waste it discards. As a result, the “Pay as You Throw” method encourages both recycling and reduction in food waste, since food accounts for a significant portion of the household’s waste volume.

35. Storage Guidelines For Fruits Vegetables | Ministry of Agriculture ( 🔗Link )
36. In the US and Canada, Pay As You Throw is implemented on the local level, in several states/provinces. In the United States, it is practiced in Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. In Canada, the system is used in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and elsewhere.