Governments and businesses are being challenged to step up action on food waste in order to meet the challenge of halving food loss and waste by 2030.
A new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) identifies the “massive” scale of the challenge to meet the SDG target with nearly a third of all food produced in the world still going uneaten each year -- an amount that costs the global economy US$940bn and emits 8% of greenhouse gases.
The report sets out a three-pronged approach to tackling food waste based on the principle of Target-Measure-Act. It involves setting food loss and waste targets and measuring progress; creating a ‘to-do list’ of sector-specific actions; and collaborating on 10 scaling interventions.
Among the interventions are the development of national strategies for food loss and waste reduction, and the use of behavioural science to shift consumer social norms by, for instance, getting rid of offers such as 'buy one get one free' that encourage over-buying, and printing food storage information on food packaging, making it easier for people to waste less food.
WRI also identified a need for more and better data to understand the scale and scope of the food loss and waste challenge, without which it will not be possible to identify hotspots, hone reduction strategies and monitor progress.
Successfully halving food loss and waste would close the gap between food needed in 2050 and food available in 2010 by more than 20%, according to WRI. It would avoid the need to convert an area the size of Argentina into agricultural land, and would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 gigatons per year by 2050, an amount more than the current energy- and industry- related emissions of Japan.
“There’s more public and private sector activity than ever – with 30 of the world’s largest global food companies setting targets to reduce food loss and waste – but we’re still falling short in major areas,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of WRI. “Halving food loss and waste by 2030 is critical if we’re to feed the world without destroying the planet. The three-pronged agenda we’re urging gives the world a blueprint for success, with clear and specific action items everyone from crop farmers to hoteliers must take now to combat this waste.”