Food Waste: from a problem to an opportunity
More than 2.6 trillion dollars. According to FAO estimates, this is the global direct and indirect cost of food waste, accounting for a third of the food produced. Food waste can come in two forms: Food Waste and Food Loss. Food Loss is defined as a reduced quantity or quality of available food due to producers’ decisions, upstream of distribution, out-of-home and final consumers. Food waste, on the other hand, is the loss of food downstream in the value chain.
A commitment to not only environmental but also social sustainability
Therefore, the battle against food waste concerns all the chain stakeholders who are valued by an increasingly aware public according to the Extended Producer Responsibility principle. Failure to combat food waste can result in reputational problems as well as environmental and social sustainability issues. In international agreements, the growing awareness of waste is reflected in Goal 12.3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2011, the FAO has developed two indices to assess progress in this process, the Food Loss Index (FLI) and the Food Waste Index (FWI).
What you need to know (and do)
Many countries and international organisations have adopted laws and regulations to reduce food waste. In some countries, the intervention approach mainly facilitates and encourages donations (e.g. Italy's approach), while others more directly address unethical behaviour (e.g. France). Here is an overview of the main legislation.
· EU regulations In 2016, the EU Council approved a document on food waste, followed in 2018 by a Directive on food waste.
· Italy. In Italy, the food dispute is regulated by a 2016 law that, among other things, facilitates the donation of expiring food.
· France: In 2012, it introduced an obligation to recycle organic waste and since 2016, it has prohibited retailers from throwing away food that is about to expire.
· Norway: In 2017, the Norwegian government signed an agreement with companies to reduce the amount of wasted food by half.
· Denmark: since 2016, it has adopted a subsidy programme for companies that reduce food waste.
· Australia: was the first country to set a quantified target: to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.
· Dubai: the city of Dubai has signed a letter of intent with local hoteliers to reduce food waste in the sector.
Overview of the initiatives of the European Union against food waste:
Farm to Fork strategy
A European farm-to-fork strategy for healthier and more environmentally sustainable food industry:
European Green Deal
Action plan to achieve the goal of a continent with zero impact on nature:
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The ambitious global programme commits UN member countries until 2030:
References in North America
Overview of anti-waste initiatives in the United States:
Standards and certifications
Some certifications of good practices against food waste in different continents: