It’s A Leap Year: What Did You Do With The Extra Day?

Richard Howells

2020 is a leap year, which means that we had a February 29th for the fifth time this century. Since Leap Years were introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C, we have been getting that extra day every four years.

But how have we been taking advantage of it?

Here are a few interesting facts about what one extra day can mean.

  • The world’s population will grow by 208,000. Today, the world’s population is over 7.7 billion and counting – with the number estimated to be over 8 billion by 2023 and 10 billion by 2055 (and I hope to be one of them). It has been estimated that at the current consumption rate and considering changing dietary habits, economic growth, and income levels in developing countries, global agriculture production must be increased by about 60 to 70% to meet the increased food demand in 2050.
  • In the USA, the average person will waste a pound of food. According to US Department of Agriculture numbers, about 150,000 tons of food are thrown out in US households each day. This is 33% of the daily calories that each American consumes. Around the world, 87% of retail food waste is caused by perishable items, with fruit and vegetables the most likely to be thrown out, followed by dairy, and then meat.
  • Nearly 42,000,000 trees will be cut down. Farming, livestock grazing, mining, and drilling account for over 50% of this number. Another 35% goes to paper production. But we need trees to survive, as they absorb not only the carbon dioxide that we exhale but also the greenhouse gases that we emit. So, to feed the increasing population, the answer must be about being more efficient and productive with the space we have, rather than increased deforestation.
  • Over 1 million tons of plastic will be produced. It is estimated that 400 million tons of plastics are produced globally every year. That includes the 5 trillion plastic bags used worldwide. Shockingly, only 9% of plastic ever produced has been recycled, and 79% remains in landfills or the environment.
  • 22 metric tons of plastic will be dumped in the ocean. That amounts to 8 million metric tons a year to compound the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate in our oceans.

Safeguard the planet TODAY with a sustainable supply chain

These numbers and factoids are quite shocking, and I often think, “but what can one person do to fix this?”

But when Greta Thunberg was named Time’s Person of the Year for 2019, it highlighted the influence and power that individuals in particular – and consumers in general – have on businesses today.

As the world’s population grows and the natural resources decline, we are challenged to minimize waste and recycle products and materials as they come to their end of life. We, as customers, are increasingly demanding ethically sourced products that are manufactured and delivered through carbon-neutral processes from sustainable companies.

This means designing products and packaging that are biodegradable and environmentally sustainable. Sourcing materials ethically from organizations that follow social and humanitarian practices. Manufacturing with minimal waste and environmental impact. Delivering with logistics processes that optimize loads to reduce mileage, emissions, and carbon footprint. And operating assets and equipment in an energy-efficient manner that is safe for the environment and workforce.

One final “one-day” fact

The Mayfly has a life expectancy of about one day. They infamously use all their time to eat, drink, and make merry.

Can I urge you to leave our planet tomorrow in a better state than when you wake up? With the rise of sustainable products, efficient cars, reduction in water usage and less plastic, there are many opportunities to make a small difference.

To learn more about enabling a sustainable supply chain, every day, sign up for an upcoming Webinar with Hans Thalbauer from SAP, Simon Ellis from IDC and me.

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About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.