Around US$940 billion (AU$127 billion) worth of food is wasted annually, according to the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard), of which Australia contributes AU$8 billion worth.
The World Resources Institute, an independent research organisation, has developed the FLW Standard with the aim of reducing food waste by ‘recycling’ produce.
The FLW was first announced in early June at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is the first attempt to define and standardise international food waste. If successful, these efforts will help feed the 800 million people who are undernourished around the world. They will also cut greenhouse gas emissions from production of wasted or lost food.
“Widespread use of the FLW Standard will motivate and empower countries, companies, and other entities to minimise FLW, thereby realising economic benefits, enhancing food security, improving natural resource use efficiency, and reducing environmental impacts,” says the organisation.
Supporters of the FLW Standard have called on global governments to work to reduce food waste by 50 per cent by 2030. Denmark was first to act, pioneering a supermarket in February where the entire selection comprises discarded products, mainly those with damaged packaging or past their expiration dates.
Then, on 3 February, the French senate unanimously passed a law banning French supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Instead, supermarkets are required to donate products to charities and food banks, producing millions more meals for people struggling to afford to eat.
But change is not just about government initiatives; individual businesses can also contribute. FoodWise is Australia’s leading waste-management campaign. Organised by DoSomething, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at motivating social change, the campaign aims to regulate food wastage in all areas of everyday life (from supermarkets to home kitchens).
FoodWise provides various solutions which businesses can adopt, including giving customers portion-size options. By giving people the ability to choose only what they want to eat, unnecessary leftovers are reduced.
According to the FoodWise website, “No matter what kind of food business you’re in, there’s plenty that you can do to address the problem.”
To find out more, visit foodwise.com.au
Food waste by the numbers
The most recent data shows:
- The world wastes 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year
- Australia wastes more than 4.2 million tonnes (all to landfill)
- Of that, 2.7 million tonnes comes from households, while 1.5 million tonnes is commercial waste
- The food services sector (including restaurants and caterers) was the largest sector by far,
generating 661,000 tonnes of the commercial waste
- Food manufacturing was next, generating 312,000 tonnes
- In third place was food retail, creating 179,000 tonnes
- It costs the industry approximately $10.5 billion in disposal costs and lost product.
RMIT University, 2013, The role of packaging in minimising food waste in the supply chain of the future, http://mams.rmit.edu.au/ie9rn2ifqca.pdf