Reducing the land use of EU pork production: where there's swill, there's a way.
Livestock production occupies approximately 75% of agricultural land, consumes 35% of the world's grain, and produces 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. With demand for meat and dairy products forecast to increase 60% by 2050, there is a pressing need to reduce the footprint of livestock farming. Food wastes have a long history as a source of environmentally benign animal feed, but their inclusion in feed is currently banned in the EU because of disease control concerns. A number of East Asian states have in the last 20 years, however, introduced regulated, centralised systems for safely recycling food wastes into animal feed. This study quantifies the land use savings that could be realised by changing EU legislation to promote the use of food wastes as animal feed and reviews the policy, public, and industry barriers to the use of food waste as feed. Our results suggest that the application of existing technologies could reduce the land use of EU pork (20% of world production) by one fifth, potentially saving 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land. While swill presents a low-cost, low-impact animal feed, widespread adoption would require efforts to address consumer and farmer concerns over food safety and disease control.