If all of the world’s food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Production and distribution is responsible for two-thirds of the food that is wasted. The final third of food waste happens at the consumer level. For all three stages, most of the global food supply that goes to waste happens in developed countries.
Millions of people around the world have far too little access to quality food to meet their basic nutritional needs, although enough food is being produced across the globe to fulfill the world population’s needs. Until recently, the prime solution to not having enough food has been to increase production. Today, however, it is generally acknowledged that is an unsustainable solution, requiring even more water, land, pesticides, and fertilizers. If we have to feed the 7.2 billion people who currently live on this planet, let alone the projected number of over 9 billion in 2050, tackling food spills and waste is key success factor to providing quality nutrition for all.
John Oliver paints a very clear (and hilarious) picture in Last Week Tonight of the Food Waste challenge in the US:
The efficient management of natural resources is a key target to feed a growing population and at the same time produce food sustainably. Today agriculture is the biggest consumer of water worldwide, and irrigation now claims close to 70 percent of all freshwater appropriated for human use. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 12 seeks to encourage industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste and supports developing countries to move toward to more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030. More specifically, SDG target 12.3 aims to halve global food waste per capita at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
During the World Economic Forum in January 2016, Champions 12.3 initiative was launched. Champions 12.3 is a coalition of executives from governments, businesses such as Unilever, Tesco and Nestlé, international organizations, research institutions, farmer groups, and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030. The role the champions have taken on is to lead by example, showcase, and advocate in a manner aligned with their interests and capabilities. The Government of the Netherlands and the World Resources Institute (WRI) jointly provide secretariat support to Champions 12.3, organize the convenings, and coordinate preparation of background analyses and media outreach material. Since food waste is relevant in all steps of the value chain, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has developed an overview of mitigation actions on all 5 stages which we provided with inspiring examples already successful today:
1. Production, during or immediately after harvesting on the farm
2. Handling and storage, after leaving the farm
3. Processing and packaging, during industrial or domestic processing/packaging
4. Distribution and market, during distribution to markets including wholesale and retail
5. Consumption, in the home or business of the consumer including restaurants and caterers
More inspiration and leading examples will be published in our upcoming newsletters. We are constantly looking out for fresh ideas and invite you to share any innovations that can accelerate solutions for the food waste challenge. Please contact Josée van der Hoek, founding partner, at +31 6 28 02 18 80 or email@example.com.
Image source: YouTube - Last Week Tonight