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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, CGF members are committed to food loss and waste reductions.
In mid 2015, the CGF Board approved a resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 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 Environmental Sustainability work. 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 introduced 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.
Then in 2017, we worked on a new report with Champions 12.3 that highlighted how for every $1 companies invested to reduce food loss and waste, they saved $14 in operating costs – concrete evidence of the clear return on investment from food loss and waste reduction.
We have also worked with Champions 12.3 on a Call to Action to simplify and standardise food date labels globally. The CGF Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Call to Action, which notes retailers and food producers should take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste by 2020:
In addition to the labels on products, the Call to Action recommends companies partner with nonprofit organisations and government agencies to educate consumers about how to interpret date labels. Education efforts could include in-store displays, web materials and public service announcements. Many consumers don’t know, for example, that many products are still safe to eat past the “Best if used by” date.