Food Waste

Food Waste Spacer


Food waste is an enormous environmental, social and economic challenge. A third of food calories produced are never eaten. It represents an economic cost to the global economy of $940 billion per year and, if food waste were a country, its carbon footprint would be third only to China and the US.
In a world of rising population, increasing cost of food, concerns about inequality and growing food insecurity, food waste is one of the greatest challenges of our time with 30% (1.3 billion tonnes) of food produced being wasted each year. Food waste is also responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the planet's atmosphere per year. Moreover, the water footprint of food waste is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva.
Given the magnitude of this challenge, the Consumer Goods Industry is therefore committed to food waste reduction.


In mid 2015, the CGF Board approved a resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025 and to support wider UN Goals on the issue. This was yet another milestone in the consumer goods industry's commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership. 
This Food Waste Resolution  is the third resolution of the CGF’s Sustainability Pillar. Central to the Food Waste Resolution is the aim to set a clear benchmark for food waste arisings today and set measurable goals to reduce food waste in the future. 
In June 2016 the first-ever global standard to measure food loss and waste, the FLW Standard, was introducted through an international partnership. The standard is a set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste. It comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other entities are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.
The FLW Standard was developed by the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, a multi-stakeholder partnership convened by World Resources Institute and initiated at the 3GF 2013 Summit. FLW Protocol partners include: The Consumer Goods Forum, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), EU-funded FUSIONS project, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme) and World Resources Institute. 

Food Waste Resolution


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FLW Protocol

The Food Loss & Waste Protocol (FLW Protocol) is a multi-stakeholder effort to develop the global standard for quantifying loss and waste of food, as well as associated inedible parts. It will enable countries, companies and other organisations to estimate in a credible, practical and consistent manner how much food is lost and wasted and identify where the loss and waste occur.

Food Waste Baseline FAQMeet the CGF Food Waste Resolution

  • 1. What is the CGF Food Waste Resolution? +

    In June 2015, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Board agreed on a Food Waste Resolution. The Resolution is a voluntary commitment by CGF members to take steps to prevent and reduce food loss and waste within their own retail and manufacturing operations. The Resolution asks members to:

      1. First prevent food waste, then maximise its recovery towards the goal of halving food waste within our own retail and manufacturing operations by 2025, versus a 2016 baseline.
      2. Contribute to the UN goals by 20301:
      • To halve per capita global food waste at the consumer level,
      • And to reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, and maximise the value of the remaining waste.

    The CGF and its members will achieve both by individual company initiatives, by engaging with our supply chains and end consumers (where material), and by working collectively in partnership with governments and NGOs.


    1Based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals on Food Waste adopted by UN Member States in September 2015.

  • 2. How has the CGF defined “food waste” in the Resolution? +

    Point 1 of the Resolution defines “food waste” as: food and/or associated inedible parts2 removed from the food supply chain and sent to disposal (landfill, draining or incineration without energy recovery) per unit of food sales (in constant currency). Note that while this is the CGF definition for its resolution, other stakeholders may use other definitions (e.g. legal definition in different geographies), and a company may elect to define the scope more broadly for other purposes.

    The FLW Standard does not prescribe the definition of food waste3; it allows for each individual company or entity to set its own definition.


    2Inedible parts are components of food not intended in a particular food supply chain to be consumed by humans (e.g., bones, rinds, pits/stones). For additional detail, refer to the FLW Standard.

    3In addition to defining food waste, it can also be useful to define what is considered “food”. The FLW Standard defines “Food” as any substance—whether processed, semi-processed, or raw—that is intended for human consumption. “Food” includes drink, and any substance that has been used in the manufacture, preparation, or treatment of food. “Food” also includes material that has spoiled and is therefore no longer fit for human consumption”. Therefore, even if the substance is defined as hazardous waste during the disposal phase, it is still considered food waste as long as it was intended for human consumption when introduced during the production phase.

  • 3. What do I include when measuring the baseline? +

    As shown in Figure 1, in terms of destinations, the scope of the Resolution focuses solely on the disposal phase (landfill, draining or incineration without energy recovery). Note that four4 of the 10 destinations in the FLW Standard are included in the scope of the CGF’s Resolution. The remaining six5 destinations are NOT included in the scope, and companies are not required to measure these. However, companies wishing to go beyond the CGF Resolution can do so and should refer to Chapter 6 of the FLW Standard for more information.

    The Resolution does not specify which material type to include (i.e., just food, just inedible parts, or both) or the boundary of a company’s inventory with respect to food category, geography, and organization. These should be determined by individual member companies in line with the FLW Standard.

    The Resolution does -- as part of the boundary -- specify that the “lifecycle stage” should be a company’s direct operations.


    Figure 1: Using the FLW Standard to Describe the Scope of the CGF Resolution

    15092017 Figure booklet

     4Controlled combustion without energy recovery, Landfill, Refuse/discards/litter, Sewer/wastewater treatment.

    5The additional destinations include Animal feed, Bio-based materials/biochemical processing, Codigestion/anaerobic digestion, Composting/aerobic processes, Land application, Not harvested/plowed-in.

  • 4. How can the FLW Standard help my company quantify and report food waste consistently? +

    The FLW Standard provides guidance on what to measure and how to measure it. It has eight requirements which are summarised on page 27 of the FLW Standard and described in detail in Parts II and III. Note that it is not necessary to apply all requirements to meet the CGF commitment on food waste. However, to be in conformance with the FLW Standard (as outlined in the commitment), these requirements should be complete (where relevant) when accounting for and reporting on your FLW inventory.
  • 5. How does the CGF recommend members address certain requirements of the standard to meet the Resolution? +

    FLW Standard Requirement 2: Account for and report the physical amount of FLW expressed as weight (see Chapter 7).

    CGF guidance: When normalising the weight of FLW (in accordance with the Resolution) to per unit of food sales (in constant currency). We recommend food sales values be based on retail sales value.


    FLW Standard Requirement 3: Define and report on the scope of the FLW inventory (see Chapter 6).


    a. Timeframe

    Report the timeframe for which the inventory results are being reported (including starting and ending date).

    CGF guidance: A 12-month timeframe is recommended. Calendar or fiscal year is acceptable.


    b. Material type
    Account for and report the material type(s) included in the FLW.

    CGF guidance: Members should mention which of these two is included in the inventory:

    Food only OR
    Food and inedible parts

    Although not required in the Resolution, a company quantifying food and inedible parts may nonetheless choose to separate the data by each material type (i.e., food separate from associated inedible parts).


    c. Destination
    Account for and report the destinations included in the FLW inventory (i.e. where material removed from the food supply chain is directed). If the destination is unknown, then report the initial path(s) at a minimum. Report the boundary of the FLW inventory in terms of the food category, lifestyle stage, geography, and organisation (including the sources used to classify them).

    CGF guidance: The following destinations are included in the Resolution (disposal only):

    Controlled combustion without energy recovery (incineration)
    Sewer/wastewater treatment (draining)

    FLW to controlled combustion facilities with energy recovery is not included in this scope. A company may choose to record the amount of FLW separately for each of these destinations.


    d. Boundary
    Report the boundary of the FLW inventory in terms of the food category, lifestyle stage, geography, and organisation (including the sources used to classify them).

    CGF guidance:

    1. Food category: Identify categories included using the CPC Ver2.1 classification system.

    For example, a bread manufacturer may report “CPC Ver2.1 Class 2349 (bread and other baker’s wares)”.

    State if any significant categories are excluded. For example, if a company chooses not to include water packaged explicitly for the purpose of drinking, it should note so (relevant code is CPC V2.1, Class 2441)


    2. Life-Cycle Stage: Report direct operations.

    Companies should clearly state which parts of their direct operations they are including. For example, manufacturers should note if including only production facilities, or also warehouse/distribution centre operations.

    Although the definition of this boundary is at each company’s discretion, some retailers consider that once the product is within their respective business (i.e., facilities they own) it is within their own operations]. However,                       retailers should not include as “disposal” products returned to the manufacturer.

    Each company can identify direct operations details included using appropriate ISIC codes.


    3. Geography: Companies can use UN country codes to identify locations included in the inventory.

    4. Organisation: Companies can identify number and type of units.


    FLW Standard Requirement 8: If tracking the amount of FLW and/or setting a FLW reduction target (see Chapter 14)

    CGF guidance: Select a base year, identify the scope of the target, and recalculate base FLW inventory when necessary. The reduction target for CGF members is set out by the Resolution. The base year should be set as             2016.

    The CGF recommends members publicly report on the baseline measurement, as well as monitor and publicly report on progress on a regular basis.


    An Inventory Reporting Template is available through the FLW Protocol which helps users record and report the results of inventories conducted using the FLW Standard. Please note that this is a general template and has not been created specifically for CGF members. To learn more and/or download the template, please visit the following page:

  • 6. What methods can I use to quantify food waste in my own direct operations? +

    The Resolution as well as the FLW Standard allows companies to select whatever method is most appropriate to their needs and resource availability. The Standard provides extensive guidance on a number of quantification methods, including:

    • - Direct weighing
    • - Counting
    • - Assessing volume
    • - Waste composition analysis
    • - Records
    • - Diaries
    • - Surveys
    • - Mass balance
    • - Modelling
    • - Proxy data


    Guidance on using these methods can be viewed here.

    An interactive ranking tool is also available to help select the most appropriate quantification methodology. The document can be downloaded here.

  • 7. How can I account for packaging when quantifying food waste? +

    Section 8.3 of the FLW Standard (“Accounting for Packaging”) provides an overview of approaches for excluding the weight of packaging from food loss and waste quantification.
  • 8. Where can I find out about training opportunities related to the FLW Standard? +

    The FLW Protocol Steering Committee periodically holds training sessions to provide guidance on using the FLW Standard. To view upcoming training sessions or recordings of previous sessions, please visit the following page:

    The CGF will also periodically organise webinars and training sessions tailored specifically for CGF members. If you would like to receive more information on these training sessions, please contact the Environmental Sustainability Team at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • 9. Does the CGF recommend a specific food waste hierarchy for prioritising food waste hierarchy for prioritising food waste destinations? +

    The first priority of the Resolution is to measure and then prevent/reduce food from being sent to disposal. CGF does not currently recommend a specific food waste hierarchy given the variations in availability of waste management technologies in differing geographies.
  • 10. Where can I find more information on measurement and other aspects related to food loss and waste? +

    The full set of tools and resources for using the FLW Standard is available on the FLW Protocol website. This website also includes case studies describing how companies have used the FLW Standard.

    A number of additional resources are also listed on the FLW Protocol website. These resources contain tools and guides for anyone attempting to quantify and reduce their own FLW, as well as reading materials providing additional background on the causes, extent, and effects of FLW. These resources were developed by other organizations, separate from the FLW Standard development process, and can be viewed here.

    A number of case studies are available on the CGF website providing an overview of how some members measure their food waste. These case studies can be viewed here.

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