This resolution focuses on two key areas, 1.) preventing food waste, then maximizing its recovery towards the goal of halving food waste within the retail and manufacturing operations of CGF’s 400 members by 2025 versus a 2016 baseline, and 2.) contributing to the United Nations goals by 2030 to halve per capita global food waste at the consumer level; and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, and maximize the value of the remaining waste.
With offices in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, Tokyo, Japan, and Silver Spring, Md., the CGF describes itself as a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serve the consumer goods industry worldwide. The organization brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders representing 70 countries.
CGF’s Food Waste Resolution is the third resolution of its Sustainability Pillar.
“The CGF commitment to reduce food waste demonstrates our willingness to engage and take action in an area where a collective industry effort can make a difference,” says Ignacio Gavilan, CGF’s director of sustainability. “Food waste is an enormous environmental, social, and economic challenge and it’s a tragedy that up to 2 billion tonnes* of food produced around the world is lost or wasted never making it onto a plate. We can’t afford to let this continue and, by taking positive actions, our members are well placed to help improve food security, conserve water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
In the U.S., 30 percent to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office of North America/United States Committee for Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
On June 4, 2015, Daily Table, a not-for-profit establishment founded by Doug Rausch, former president of Trader Joe’s (not a CGF member), opened its first store in Dorchester, Mass. Daily Table works with a large network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers, and other suppliers who donate their excess healthy food, so the “upbeat, clean, and friendly” retail store is able to offer nutritious food to everyone in the community at prices designed to fit every budget.
According to the USDA, there are many definitions of food loss and waste, depending on the source.
The FAO uses food “loss” to refer to reductions in edible food mass during production, postharvest, and processing. It uses food “waste” to refer to reductions at the retail and consumer levels.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) defines food loss as the edible amount of food, postharvest, that is available for human consumption but is not consumed for any reason. It includes cooking loss and natural shrinkage (for example, moisture loss); loss from mold, pests, or inadequate climate control; and food waste, where food waste is defined (by ERS) as the component of food loss that occurs when an edible item goes unconsumed, as in food discarded by retailers due to color or appearance and plate waste by consumers.
For the U.S. Food Waste Challenge launched in 2013, USDA is adopting the convention of using the general term “food waste” to describe reductions in edible food mass anywhere along the food chain. In some of the statistics and activities surrounding recycling, the term “waste” is stretched to include non-edible (by humans) parts of food such as banana peels, bones, and egg shells.
“Reducing Food Loss and Waste,” a working paper published by the World Resources Institute in 2013, reports that “24 percent of all food calories grown today are lost or wasted between the farm and the fork.” The paper elaborates that “food is lost and wasted to a varying extent across the globe, across all stages of the food value chain, and across all types of food.”
Global Food Wastage Key Facts
According to FAO:
- The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes* of “primary product equivalents.” Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes*;
- Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes* of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gass released into the atmosphere per year;
- The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (some 98 miles3) is equivalent to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva;
- Similarly, approximately 3.5 billion acres of land—28 percent of the world’s agricultural area—is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted;
- Agriculture is responsible for a majority of threats to at-risk plant and animal species tracked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature;
- A low percentage of all food wastage is composted: much of it ends up in landfills, and represents a large part of municipal solid waste. Methane emissions from landfills represents one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector;
- Home composting can potentially divert up to about 330.7 pounds of food waste per household per year from local collection authorities;
- Developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle- and high-income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer level tends to be higher; and
- The direct economic consequences of food wastage (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually.
* One tonne equals 2,204.623 pounds.