- Posted by Admin
- On May 22, 2017
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- America, compost, Developed countries, developing countries, donate, EPA, EU, FAO, food waste, France, Germany, global hunger, Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, recycle, sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations, USDA, Zero Hunger Challenge
Last week we discussed the issue, this week we will discuss the solution…
In 2015 the U.S. government announced its National Food Loss and Waste Goal, aiming for a 50% reduction in waste by 2030, acknowledging the issue’s importance. USDA and EPA currently are working on several initiatives to improve the overall food security and sustainable use of natural resources.
Why are Resources Being Wasted?
- Financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities; infrastructure; packing; marketing systems, as well as institutional and legal framework all contribute to waste.
- Inefficient practices, quality standards, confusion due to date labels and consumer being fast throwing out edible food because of over-buying, inappropriate storage as well as preparing to big meal contribute to waste.
- Consumers in developed countries often buy more because it is simply cheaper to buy in bulk. Therefore, more food may be thrown away.
- Another connected issue is raised by farmers who lose harvest when retailers pass on buying their products because of “demanded” standards, even though USDA standards are met. Although, the enacted Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930 (PACA) promotes fair trade in the fruit and vegetable industry, many farmers do not enforce this to prevent losing grocers as their customers. The unsold food is, in some cases fed to livestock, and in others it’s sent to landfills.
- According to FAO, 95% of food waste in developing countries accumulates “upstream”, meaning food that isn’t fit for human consumption.
What Can We Do?
- France started banning supermarkets from throwing away food by directing them to compost or donate expiring or unsold food.
- Germany is trying to combat the issue by focusing on reforming the expiration dates that may cause customer’s confusion.
- The European Union aims to halve food waste by 2030, by lifting existing restrictions on food donations and eliminating confusion about “best before” and “use by” labeling
- American start-ups offer less appealing, yet perfectly consumable produce at discount prices.
- The Obama administration announced a campaign that would reduce more than two million calories that Americans waste annually by 50% by 2030. The campaign focuses on improving food efficiency, recycling, decoding food labels, and finding ways to deliver food to the one-in-six Americans that are hungry.
- Globally, leading agencies are already putting an effort into developing and implementing programs on food loss and waste reduction within international frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Post 2015 Agenda as well as the Zero Hunger Challenge. All based on four essential pillars:
- Awareness raising on the impact of, and solutions for, food loss and waste.
- Collaboration and coordination of world-wide initiatives on food loss and waste reduction.
- Policy, strategy and program development for food loss and waste reduction.
- Support to investment programs and projects, implemented by private and public sectors.
In a world with 7 billion people, growing to an estimate of 9 billion by 2050, where 795 million people are suffering from hunger, changes on an individual level can have significant impacts.
An example on how to reach the goal of reducing food waste was established through Massachusetts’ law. Grocers are required to either donate or re-purpose food, which cannot be sold. Another way to improve current situation can be seen in the voluntary initiative to change expiration dates on pre-packed food, adopted by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. These regulations aim to clear up what product date labels mean. Therefore, help customers’ understanding and decrease food waste.
United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office of North America: Food Waste: The Facts. http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts
U.S. Department of Agriculture – Office Of the Chief Economist: OCE Home/ U.S. Food Waste Challenge/ FAQ’s https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm
The Atlantic: Why Americans Lead the World in Food Waste https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/07/american-food-waste/491513/
The Guardian: Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/13/us-food-waste-ugly-fruit-vegetables-perfect
The Guardian: Reduce food waste dramatically with simple acts, says UN https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/22/reduce-food-waste-campaigner
The Washington Post: You’re about to see a big change to the sell-by dares in food https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/16/a-barely-noticeable-change-to-how-food-is-labeled-could-save-americans-millions/?utm_term=.a3544a3f3b03
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Home/ Themes/ Food Loss and Food Waste. FAO’s role in food loss and waste http://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/en/
Welthungerhilfe: Global Hunger Index 2016 http://www.welthungerhilfe.de/en/ghi-interactive-map.html
Triple Pundit: Solutions to Grocery Store Food Waste
Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (2017): Opportunities To Reduce Food Waste In The 2018 Farm Bill