Globally, food waste contributes about 8% of the total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) – nearly as much as global road transport emissions! In the U.S., nearly 40% of the food we produce goes to waste -- more than 62 million tons of the food we grow, process, and bring to market each year is never eaten. Reducing U.S. food waste by 20% within the next decade could prevent 18 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Roughly 43% of all food waste comes from households while the remainder is spread throughout the food supply chain: 40% from consumer-facing businesses such as distributors, retail grocers, restaurants, food service providers, 16% from farms, and 2% from food manufacturing.
Businesses that commit to reducing food waste in their supply chains can reduce their climate change impacts while increasing their profits. Preventing food loss at the source reduces costs by saving ingredients, packaging, labor and waste removal. It also prevents the waste of the water, energy and other resources that went into producing the food.
There are abundant opportunities to prevent food waste at every phase, including:
- Standardized date labeling
- Consumer education
- Produce specifications
- Manufacturing line optimization
- Cold chain management
- Embracing “ugly” produce
- Waste tracking and packaging innovations technologies
Innovative solutions for food waste recovery can divert food to higher value uses including feeding hungry people, animals, industrial fuel conversion and energy recovery, and more, thereby reducing the need for additional food and feed.
What is expected of companies that commit to reducing food waste in their supply chain?
Many companies get started by conducting a food waste audit to identify opportunities for improvements throughout the supply chain. Next steps include tracking food waste, setting goals, measuring progress utilizing existing tools and standards, and implementing actions for waste prevention and recovery.
Cost-effective and scalable ways to reduce food waste vary within the supply chain. While farmers, manufacturers, retailers and restaurants might focus on different process improvements to reduce food waste, there are considerable opportunities for working with supply chain partners.
Companies committing to reducing food waste in their supply chain will be expected to complete a short annual questionnaire updating the Climate Collaborative on progress made toward the commitment.
How can the Climate Collaborative help?
Key solutions to reducing food waste rely on collaboration within the industry and engaging with supply chain stakeholders. The Climate Collaborative is establishing networking opportunities to help companies align with public-private partnerships in this area. Our goal is to support your company in meeting your food waste reduction goals by helping to accelerate the learning process and facilitate the connections you need.
We are developing a white paper and webinar to identify food waste causes, issues, and reduction opportunities within the supply chain while highlighting industry best practices. The paper will include guidelines for food waste prevention, recovery and recycling, along with an expanded list of resources and policy efforts.
Understanding your particular areas of interest and needs in establishing food waste reduction targets, roadmaps, and tracking processes will help us to help you. Please let us know your needs and interests. [EF1]
Initiatives, roadmaps and toolkits for tackling food waste:
- ReFed – Business collaboration and roadmap for reducing food waste
- Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic Food Waste Toolkit - Keeping Food Out of the Landfill
- FAO: Food Wastage Footprint & Climate Change
Tools and standards for auditing and measuring food waste:
Information about food waste initiatives and policy efforts:
- The Food Waste Reduction Alliance – Industry surveys and reports
- Consumer Goods Forum - Food Waste Resolution
- Food Law & Policy Clinic - Recordings from Reduce and Recover conference June 2016
- NRDC - Further with Food – Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions