Food Waste

Global standard to measure food waste launched

A new global standard for measuring food waste has been launched, which is set to assist countries and commercial operations set up their efforts to moderate and control food waste.

Known as the FLW Protocol, the new measure is a partnership committee consisting of seven institutions including:

  • The Consumer Goods Forum
  • FAO
  • Fusions
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
  • Wrap
  • World Resources Institute

It is estimated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), that around one third of all food on the planet, by weight, is spoiled or thrown away as it is transported from its place of origin through to where it is eaten.

Globally, this costs around $940 billion per year.

The protocol hopes to channel this waste food to communities and people around the world, where 800 million are undernourished.

It is also hoped that the efforts will also cut emissions from the waste food, which accounts for no less than 8 per cent of the total pollution contributing to climate change.

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute said that, “there’s simply no reason that so much food should be lost and wasted,” and that “now we have a powerful new tool that will helps governments and businesses save money, protect resources, and ensure more people get the food they need.”

Major corporations, including Nestlé, have tested the standard.

The food giant, which has been criticised in the past for its attitude towards sustainability, tried the standard to measure fresh milk loss in its supply chain in Pakistan.

Thanks to refrigeration tanks and other cooling systems used during haulage, milk wastage was found to be at 1.4 per cent – a huge difference in comparison to the national average, which stands at 15 per cent.

Speaking to reporters, Pascal Gréverath, Nestlé’s vice president for environmental sustainability, said:

Since we are in direct contact with many farmers, we have many opportunities to use (the standard) to better assess the possible options to further reduce loss and waste.

“This we do also together with local authorities, so there are ways we can promote the protocol.”

According to the FAO, food loss is a greater problem in low-income and developing countries, where food is spoiled earlier in the value chain – often during harvest or in storage and later.

The situation however, is deemed “worse” in cash rich countries, where much of the waste is thrown away from shops or by consumers.

The standard, which was launched at the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen, is set to invite governments around the world to adopt measures calling for food waste to be cut in half by 2030, and for food losses to be reduced.

Mark Little, head of food was reduction at Tesco claimed that food waste at the supermarket is relatively low but that, “we have a shared responsibility for waste,” and that “We feel that the solution… lies in working in partnership with our farmers, our manufacturers and helping customers to reduce waste in their own homes.”

Andy has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of years and has been published in some of the UK’s top newspapers. He is now the editor Commercial Waste Magazine and contributes to a large selection of headlines and blog articles on the site.

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