The Institute of Ecological Systems Design at ETH Zurich has calculated the environmental impact of avoidable food waste linked to food consumption in Switzerland which showed that this impact could be avoided if the food were eaten rather than wasted, and therefore less food needed to be produced.
Half of the environmental impact of all avoidable food waste is generated by household (approximately 778,000 tons) and catering industry (approximately 210,000 tons) consumption. This stems, in particular, from the fact that food waste at the end of the value chain has a higher environmental impact, on average, than food waste occurring at the beginning.
This shows two things: firstly, avoidance measures at the end of the food chain (households, catering industry, retailers) are particularly important for the environment and, secondly, optimized recovery/recycling of food waste can only generate a fraction of the environmental benefits of avoiding such waste altogether.
In Switzerland itself, a total of 2.6 million tons of food waste is generated annually (weighed as fresh matter). At least two thirds of this are avoidable, meaning that the food is edible when it is discarded or was edible at some point prior to disposal.