Official Press Release

November 2020
Joint announcement from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Leket Israel
An embargo for Tuesday, November 10th, 2020, at 6:00 AM!
The 5th National Food Waste and Rescue Report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Leket Israel Reveals: The Environmental Cost of Food Waste in Israel is NIS 3.2 billion (US $938 million) Annually

Ra’anana Israel, November 10th, 2020: The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Leket Israel today released the Fifth Annual Food Waste and Rescue Report. The report, which was written and edited by BDO, presents, for the first time in Israel, a detailed model estimating the environmental impact and the environmental costs of food waste, as well as the effect on the Israeli economy. It also shows how Israel compares to other countries around the world on this issue.

Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel: “The Food Waste and Rescue Report shows that the impact of food waste on the environment and the economy is significant, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The report reveals that approximately 35% of all food produced in Israel is thrown out, and handling this waste and surplus consumes additional resources – not to mention the resources required for cultivating and producing this food: land, water, energy, pollutant emissions, etc., which are are also being wasted. Now, during this global health pandemic and economic crisis, it is incumbent upon us to save these resources, which can also help weaker populations. Our office is currently formulating a waste strategy that will include reduction of waste at the source, especially food waste. We will also continue to promote policies that will encourage the reduction of food waste and its impact on the environment.”

Gidi Kroch, Leket Israel CEO: “Based on the 2019 Food Waste and Rescue Report, and in light of the intensifying Covid-19 crisis, it is more critical than ever to adopt food rescue as a national government policy to address welfare, the environment, health, and the economy. Food rescue contributes to reducing food insecurity for vulnerable populations for one-third of the cost, increases the GDP and economic productivity, minimizes societal gaps, lowers the cost of living, and better utilizes the scarce environmental resources. I am delighted to have worked with the Ministry of Environmental Protection to write this year’s report, and I sincerely hope that this cooperation will contribute to a greater understanding of the effectiveness of food rescue and to its adoption by the government as a national policy.”

Chen Herzog, Chief Economist, BDO: “Food waste has cost Israel’s economy NIS 20.3 billion (US $6 billion) in 2019, on top of an environmental cost of NIS 3.2 billion (US $938 million). This money could have financed one-fifth of the State’s Covid-19 aid budget. The financial and environmental costs of food loss along the entire value chain end up being paid directly out of the pockets of Israeli consumers and taxpayers, and negatively affect the cost of living. Specifically, this year, considering the Covid-19 pandemic, it is of paramount importance to formulate a national plan for food rescue.”

The environmental cost of food waste in Israel, as of 2019, is estimated at NIS 3.2 billion (US $938 million): NIS 1.4 billion (US $410 million) is due to the unnecessary waste of land and water resources, NIS 1 billion (US $295 million) in greenhouse gas and air pollution, and NIS 0.8 billion (US $236 million) is a direct cost of waste collection and processing. According to the report, food waste constitutes about 35% of the volume of municipal waste.

Food waste is responsible for 6% of greenhouse gas emissions in Israel, which is equivalent to GHG emissions from 1.6 million cars per year – about half the number of cars in Israel. Minimizing the extent of food waste in Israel will significantly help the national effort to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to which the Israeli government committed in the Paris Agreement, signed at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2015.

Food waste accounts for about one-third of all household waste in Israel. The total direct external economic cost for treating garbage originating from food waste in Israel in 2019 was approximately NIS 1.2 billion (US $352 million).

Findings from the report reveal that an average Israeli family throws away NIS 3,300 (US $968) worth of food per year, equivalent to a month and a half of household food expenditures. Food waste at the consumption stage is responsible for about 55% of the total environmental costs of food waste.

The effects of food waste at all stages of the value chain increases food prices by 11%, and the loss of food impairs productivity in the economy due to production and labor loss.

Food waste in Israel amounts to 2.5 million tons (5.5 billion pounds), with a market value of NIS 20.3 billion (US $6 billion). This constitutes 1.5% of the national product. In addition to the loss of natural resources, the cost of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and waste treatment totals an estimated NIS 22 billion (US $6.5 billion).

To illustrate the point, along with the enormous amounts of food that are wasted each year, the following resources are also unnecessarily consumed: 1,260 million kWh of electricity, equivalent to the total amount of electricity needed to produce all computers, electronic, and electrical equipment in Israel each year; 70,000 tons of fuel that could fuel 160,000 cars in Israel annually; 180 million cubic meters (180 billion liters) of fresh water, which would fill 56,000 olympic-size pools or would be the equivalent of every citizen in Israel taking one shower daily for a year; 1 million dunams (~247 acres) of agriculatural land, equivalent to 20x the size of Tel Aviv.

Almost half of this loss, 1.2 million tons (2.6 billion pounds), valued at NIS 7 billion (US $2 billion), could be saved.

In order to close the food insecurity gap in Israel, we must rescue 20% of the food that is wasted, worth approximately NIS 3.2 billion (US $938 million). Food rescue makes this possible, at a cost of only NIS 880 million (US $258 million). At the same time, this would save about 80 million cubic meters (80 billion liters) of water, 250 million kWh of electricity, and thousands of tons of fuel. Approximately NIS 220 million (US $65 million) would be saved as a result of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and about NIS 160 million (US $46 million) would be saved from waste treatment costs.

According to BDO estimates, Covid-19 will cause an additional 145,000 people to become food insecure. The crisis will also exacerbate food insecurity for the 1.87 million people who were already suffering before the pandemic. This emphasizes the urgency of food rescue, which can help minimize the economic damage from the crisis and decrease the environmental costs imposed on the Israeli economy as a consequence of food produced, but not consumed.

About Leket Israel
Serving as Israel’s largest food rescue organization, in 2019, Leket Israel rescued 2.2 million cooked meals from IDF army bases, hotels catering companies, and restaurants and 15.7 thousand tons (31 million pounds) of agricultural produce worth NIS 209 million (US $61 million). All this rescued food was redistributed to 175,000+ needy people weekly through Leket Israel’s network of 200 nonprofit agency partners throughout Israel. 

For more information or to schedule an interview:

Shira Woolf Leket Israel
[email protected]

Gitit Pinkas Ministry of Environmental Protection
[email protected]