By Sunny Lewis
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, November 17, 2016 (Maximpact.com News) – A new international framework that empowers businesses, governments and NGOs to measure and manage food loss and waste is in its first year of operation. About a third of all food produced each year is lost or wasted worldwide as it moves from field to table, enough food to feed two billion people for a year, even as more than 800 million people are undernourished.
Introduced at the Global Green Growth Forum 2016 Summit (3GF) in Copenhagen in June, the new Food Loss and Waste Standard (FLW) is the first set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to measure, report on and manage food loss and waste.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that over 40 percent of root crops, fruits and vegetables are lost or wasted, along with 35 percent of fish, 30 percent of cereals and 20 percent of oilseeds, meat, and dairy products. Total food waste represents an economic value of some $1 trillion annually.
Food loss and waste generates about eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the United States.
The FLW standard comes as a growing number of governments, companies and civil society groups are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.
“This standard is a real breakthrough,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute based in Washington, DC. “For the first time, armed with the standard, countries and companies will be able to quantify how much food is lost and wasted, where it occurs, and report on it in a highly credible and consistent manner.“
“There’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted,” said Steer. “Now, we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need.“
The standard is voluntary and designed for users of all types and sizes, across all economic sectors, and in any country.
Peter Bakker, president and CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, said the world has to stop destroying food. “Wasting a third of the food we produce is a clear symptom of a global food system in trouble,” he said.
“The FLW Standard is pivotal to setting a reliable baseline for streamlined and efficient action on the ground for countries, cities, and small and big businesses along the food value chain,” said Bakker. “Together with tangible business solutions, the FLW Standard can help to significantly reduce food loss and waste around the globe.“
The FLW Standard requires an entity to report on four components:
- Timeframe: the period of time for which the inventory results are being reported
- Material type: the materials that are included in the inventory – food only, inedible parts only, or both
- Destination: where FLW goes when removed from the food supply chain
- Boundary: the food category, lifecycle stage, geography, and organization
Creating inventories that conform to the FLW Standard can form the foundation for effective strategies that can reduce food loss and waste and monitor progress over time.
The new standard can help governments and companies meet international commitments, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and UN Sustainable Development Goals. SDG Target 12.3 calls for a 50 percent global reduction in food waste by 2030, along with reductions in food loss.
Kristian Jensen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark, said, “Waste makes everybody poorer. I am pleased that a new strong alliance between public and private actors will provide an efficient answer to the global challenge of food loss and waste.“
The FLW Standard is expected to help reduce food loss and waste in the private sector. In 2015, The Consumer Goods Forum, which represents more than 400 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries, adopted a resolution for its members to reduce food waste from their operations by 50 percent by 2025, with baselines and progress to be measured using the FLW Standard. Some leading companies, like Nestlé and Tesco, are already measuring and publicly reporting on their food loss and waste.
Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco, a British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer, likes the new standard. “We are pleased to have been the first UK retailer to publish third party-assured food waste data for our own operations and will continue to do so every year. This transparency and hard evidence is a cornerstone of our food waste work.”
“Not only has this allowed us to identify where there are food waste hotspots in our own operations, it has also helped us to take action in those areas of food loss and waste,” said Lewis.
Last December, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) , the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the CGIAR program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets launched a new initiative to enhance global cooperation on measuring and reducing food loss and waste. The program was requested by the G20 agriculture ministers.
The Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste is an information-sharing and coordination network involving international organizations, development banks, NGOs, and the private sector.
Platform partners work together to enhance the measurement of food loss and waste, exchange knowledge and information, and share best practices to tackle the global challenges of food loss and waste.
“The G20 Platform will enhance our capacity to accurately measure food loss and waste, both in the G20 countries and in low-income countries,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “It will bring new expertise and knowledge for improving metrics. It will also respond to countries’ need for knowledge and good practices.“
In Japan, an estimated 6.42 million tons of food loss and waste is generated every year, about twice the 3.08 million tons of food provided by the United Nations World Food Programme as humanitarian aid in 2014.
To address this, Tatsuya Sekito, the CEO of the Japanese consulting company Glaucks Co., opened Kuradashi.jp, an online shopping website, in February 2015.
Kuradashi.jp sells products supplied by cooperating manufacturers that endorse its objectives. They provide their products at special prices, so most of the products are priced at half the regular price or lower. After free membership registration, anybody can visit the website and make a purchase.
The greater the sales on Kuradashi.jp, the greater will be the reduction in food waste, because these are products that would otherwise be discarded.
In 2020, the Olympics will be held in Tokyo. After the success of the London Olympics on the theme of sustainability, Tokyo will be seeking global attention for its efforts in managing the Tokyo Olympics to create systems for a more sustainable society.
Sekito says, “We can’t miss this opportunity. We want to use the power of business to reduce food waste and make progress toward improvements and solutions for this issue.“
Featured image: Young Georgia girl enjoys a Georgia peach (Photo by Bruce Tuten) Creative Commons license via Flickr.