‘Breakthrough’ global food waste standard to save industry millions

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Food waste: is estimated to cost up to $940bn per year globally
Food waste: is estimated to cost up to $940bn per year globally

Related tags: Sustainable development, Sustainability, Food

A new global food waste standard aimed at saving consumers and the food industry money, while alleviating pressure on natural resources, has been described as a “breakthrough” by its backers.

The ‘Food loss and waste accounting and reporting standard’ (FLW standard) was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen today (June 6).

It aimed to reduce the one-third of all food that is lost or wasted worldwide as it moved from where it is produced to where it is eaten, costing up to $940bn a year, according to UK Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates.

Created by the World Resources Institute (WRI) – a global research organisation that spans more than 50 countries – the standard was described as a new international framework to empower businesses, governments, and other organisations to measure, report on and manage food loss and waste.

Food waste commitments

It came as a growing number of governments, companies and other entities were making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.

A chief aim of the FLW standard was to help governments and businesses better understand how much food is lost or wasted or where it occurs within their borders, operations or supply chains.

Moreover, the WRI said the definition of food loss and waste varied widely, and without a consistent accounting and reporting framework it had been difficult to compare data and develop effective strategies, it claimed.

The FLW standard can also help governments and companies meet international commitments, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the WRI explained.

SDG Target 12.3 calls for a 50% global reduction in food waste by 2030, along with reductions in food loss.

Consumer Goods Forum

Last year, 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% by 2025, with baselines and progress to be measured using the FLW standard.

Andrew Steer, president and chief executive of the WRI, said: “This standard is a real breakthrough. 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. 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.”

Read more about FLW standard here​.

What they said:

Peter Bakker, president and ceo, World Business Council for Sustainable Development:
“Wasting a third of the food we produce is a clear symptom of a global food system in trouble. 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.”

Dave Lewis, ceo, Tesco:
“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. The new FLW standard provides a common framework for measuring food loss and waste, and I hope this will enable others to publish their data and take action to tackle this important issue.”

Paul Bulcke, ceo, Nestlé:
“I am convinced that by working together, we can develop effective solutions to reduce food loss and waste, to help the world meet Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3. Nestlé will play its part. Bold action is what matters, and we are already committed to sending zero waste for disposal from our sites by 2020.”

Dr Liz Goodwin, ceo, The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP):
“WRAP’s work to help reduce household waste in the UK by 21% was only possible through our groundbreaking analysis to quantify how much and where it was wasted. Food waste is not confined by borders, so WRAP is delighted to have helped develop the FLW standard.”

Related topics: Supply Chain, Legal

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