Mohammad Ghazal

Mar 23,2023

As the holy month of Ramadan starts, Jordanians prepare to come together in a spirit of compassion, humility and generosity. While this sacred time is marked by charity, it is also marred by an unfortunate reality: The significant increase in food waste. In Jordan, food waste is not only a moral and ethical issue but also an environmental concern with far-reaching implications for climate change. It is our collective responsibility to address this issue and adopt sustainable practices that reduce waste and protect our environment.

According to some studies, food waste in Jordan is around 35 per cent and that percentage tends to increase sharply during the holy month of Ramadan.

This surge in waste is a stark contrast to the values of frugality and mindfulness that the holy month encourages. The excessive food waste generated during Ramadan places a considerable strain on the country’s limited resources, contributing to environmental degradation and the worsening of the global climate crisis.

Food waste in Jordan is estimated at 93kg per person every year, which translates to 955,000 metric tonnes of food that could feed 1.5 million people for a whole year. At the level of food loss, it is estimated that 22 per cent of locally produced fruits and vegetables are lost along the different nodes of the supply chain.

Food waste and its relationship with climate change is often overlooked. The problem extends beyond the ethical and moral implications of wasting valuable resources; it also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. By examining the facts and studies, we can better understand the link between food waste in Jordan and climate change and take action to mitigate its consequences.

Greenhouse gas emissions: When food is wasted and left to decompose in landfills, it generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 28 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. According to a study by the Ministry of Environment and the Greater Amman Municipality, Jordan’s landfills receive more than 1.85 million tonnes of solid waste annually, of which 51 per cent is organic waste, including food waste. This means that a considerable portion of Jordan’s methane emissions originates from decomposing food in landfills.

Carbon footprint of wasted food: The production, transportation, and storage of food require significant energy and water resources, resulting in a substantial carbon footprint.

To combat food waste in Ramadan, there are several steps that can be taken. First, individuals can start by being mindful of how much food they prepare and consume during iftar. This can be done by planning ahead, making a shopping list and only purchasing the amount of food that will be needed.

Second, it is important to donate any excess food to those in need. This can be done by working with local charities and organisations that distribute food to those who are less fortunate. By donating unused food, individuals can help combat food insecurity in Jordan and ensure that excess food is not wasted.

Third, Jordan can implement policies to promote food waste reduction. This can include providing incentives for businesses and individuals to reduce food waste, as well as developing infrastructure to compost and recycle food waste.

Finally, education and awareness campaigns can be developed to raise awareness of the impact of food waste on the environment and the community. By educating individuals and communities about the importance of reducing food waste, it is possible to create a culture of mindful consumption that can last beyond Ramadan.

The writer is editor-in-chief of The Jordan Times and regularly writes for international media outlets.