The recently launched global standard on food loss and waste brings into focus the scale of the challenges faced in reducing food waste. Around 1/3 of all food is lost or wasted, costing up to $US950 billion annually. However, looked at another way, these challenges can also be seen as opportunities. More on that later.
The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting (FLW) Standard, which was developed by a partnership of international organisatons (including the World Resources Institute, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the World Resources Institute) aims to provide a framework for defining, measuring, reporting on, and ultimately managing food waste loss.
In the UK, there has been the development of the Food Waste Recycling Action Plan led by the Waste and Recycling Action Programme (WRAP). The Plan aims to enhance the capture (including its costs effectiveness), supply and quality of household and commercial food waste to the food waste recycling industry. Ultimately, the supply can therefore be better mapped to the treatment capacity (e.g. for anaerobic digestion facilities). It should also facilitate various stakeholders (e.g. households, industry, companies and local authorities), working more closely together to overcome (perceived) barriers such as the costs of developing and operating food waste collection schemes; process and product consistency; collection efficiencies from households; policy and legislative requirements; education and awareness; and behaviour change.
There has been growing effort placed in examining technological means of reducing food waste. These have included intelligent food labeling, apps and smart fridges. As with any issue, some of these technologies will not work or survive. However, there is no doubt that the challenges posed around effectively managing food waste, also provides us with opportunities not only for developing innovative solutions, but also with recovering value from the waste produced. Ultimately, however, the key ‘solution’ has to be about preventing the waste in the first place.