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July 10, 2015

Consumer Goods Companies Commit to Halving Food Waste
    by Robert Kropp

Four hundred corporate members of the Consumer Goods Forum commit to a sustainability program that includes halving food waste within their operations by 2025. -- A 2013 report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) documents the environmental and social damage inflicted by wasting up to one-third of food produced globally for human consumption. Defining food waste as “food that is of good quality and fit for human consumption but that does not get consumed because it is discarded,” the report states, “32 percent of all food produced in the world was lost or wasted in 2009.”

The consequences of such waste are several. “In a world of rising population, increasing cost of food, concerns about inequality and growing food insecurity, food waste is one of the greatest challenges of our time,” states the
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a network of 400 retailer and manufacturers members. Food waste adds over 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the earth's atmosphere every year; “If food waste was a country,” the Forum continued, “it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases globally after China and the US.”

Also, “The water footprint of food waste is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva,” CGF states. “It represents an economic cost to the global economy of $750 billion per year.”

CGF members have responded to the food waste crisis by incorporating it into its
Sustainability Pillar, which also includes commitments to zero net deforestation by 2020 and, starting this year, the phasing out of ozone-depleting hydro fluorocarbons (HFC) in refrigeration.

CGF's Food Waste Resolution commits members to the following actions:
1. Preventing food waste, then maximizing its recovery towards the goal of halving food waste within the retail and manufacturing operations of CGF members by 2025, versus a 2016 baseline;
2. Halving per capita global food waste at the consumer level; and
3. Reducing food losses along production and supply chains including post-harvest losses and maximize the value of the remaining waste.

The resolution seeks to align CGF policy with the
Food Loss & Waste Protocol under development by the WRI, “a multi-stakeholder effort to develop the global accounting and reporting standard for quantifying food and associated inedible parts removed from the food supply chain.”

According to the aforementioned report by UNEP and WRI, “There is some precedent for progress.” In the UK, the
Waste and
Resource Action Program (WRAP)
“achieved a 13 percent reduction in household food waste from 2007 to 2010. Manufacturers and retailers that signed up for Phase 2 of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement convened by WRAP, reduced their food and drink waste by 8.8 percent between 2009 and 2011.”

Furthermore, the report continued, “Pilot efforts in Benin, Cape Verde, India, and Rwanda have documented reductions of food loss by more than 60 percent during field trials of a variety of low-cost storage techniques and handling practices.”

In the US, the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a number of food waste assessment tools.

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