Europe makes progress on reducing food waste but more work needed worldwide

23 Sep 2016

New Champions 12.3 report recommends governments and businesses accelerate efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3

September 22, 2016 (Washington, D.C) – A new report released assesses the world’s progress toward Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which calls on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030. Given the magnitude of food loss and waste globally, the report recommends nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain move quickly to set reduction targets, measure progress and take action to reduce food loss and waste.

One-third of all food produced is never eaten by people. The impact of this loss and waste worldwide is tremendous. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion in economic losses and 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the European Union, costing an estimated 143 billion euros. The FAO reports that the amount of food wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.

The new publication, SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Report was released on behalf of Champions 12.3, a unique coalition of leaders from government, business and civil society around the world dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3. 

Europe-based Champions include Tesco Group Chief Executive Dave Lewis (chair of Champions 12.3), European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Peter Bakker, Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, Chairman of the Executive Board for Rabobank Wiebe Draijer, Consumer Goods Forum Managing Director Peter Freedman, Wageningen University & Research Centre’s President of the Executive Board Louise Fresco, Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP (Waste Resources & Action Programme) Marcus Gover, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to UN FAO Hans Hoogeveen, WWF International President Yolanda Kakabadse, CEO of Sodexo Group Michel Landel, Denmark’s Minister for the Environment and Food Esben Lunde Larsen, CEO of Unilever Paul Polman, Chairman of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research Juan Lucas Restrepo Ibiza, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Board for Royal DSM Feike Sijbesma, Director of the Oxford Martin School Achim Steiner and Feedback founder Tristram Stuart.

According to the report, governments and organisations across Europe have taken a number of notable steps over the past year (SDG Target 12.3 was set in September 2015) to reduce food loss and waste:

  • European Union: The European Commission established the “EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste,” a collaboration amongst public and private actors to identify food loss and waste prevention measures, share best practice and evaluate progress over time in support of the delivery of Target 12.3.
  • Denmark: The Danish government has launched a grant program to support domestic projects for combatting food waste arising anywhere in the food supply chain—from production to consumption.
  • France: In February of this year, France adopted legislation that requires French supermarkets to donate unsold yet still edible food to charities.
  • Germany: The German Ministry of Agriculture has dedicated €10 million to develop “smart packaging” that uses electronic chip sensors to determine how food has aged and communicate to consumers the food’s freshness and safety.
  • Italy: A series of national measures to tackle food waste were adopted under a new law in August 2016 aiming to reduce the country's total annual wastage by one million tonnes.
  • The Netherlands: In July, The Netherlands hosted the AU-EU Conference—Investing in a Food Secure Future in close cooperation with the African Union (AU) Commission and the European Commission. The conference identified food loss and waste reduction as a key area for improved AU-EU cooperation and developed a number of concrete actions that will be pursued in the coming year.  
  • The United Kingdom: The UK has one of the most extensive estimates of country-level food waste in the world; the British non-profit organisation WRAP has published country-wide food waste estimates in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2016. This year it launched a new voluntary agreement, the Courtauld Commitment 2025, aimed at reducing food waste by a further fifth.
  • The International Food Waste Coalition launched a program to reduce food waste in schools, with pilots in France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
  • In 2016, Tesco rolled out Community Food Connection, which utilises an online app with FareShare Food Cloud to link unsold yet still safe food with local food charities in real time, reducing the amount of food that goes uneaten.

However, considering the enormous scope of the food loss and waste challenge, Europe and other regions need to do much more. The report offers three recommendations for leaders to meet Target 12.3 by 2030:

  1. Target: Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. Every country, major city and company involved in the food supply chain should set food loss and waste reduction targets consistent with Target 12.3 in order to ensure sufficient attention and focus.
  2. Measure: What gets measured gets managed. The report recommends governments and companies quantify and report on food loss and waste and monitor progress over time through 2030.
  3. Act: Impact only occurs if people act. Governments and companies should accelerate and scale up adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

To read the full report, visit https://champions123.org/2016-progress-report/.

QUOTES:

Dave Lewis, CEO, Tesco:

“It is vital that organisations begin measuring food waste, and set reduction targets.  In 2013, Tesco became the first and only UK retailer to publish independently assured food waste data. It was a move that was instrumental in showing us where we needed to focus our efforts. Once we identified the problems areas we knew where to act. By measuring food waste, setting targets and building action plans, organisations are able to manage food waste as they would other business critical processes.”

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety:

"To fight food waste, we need to redesign our food value chain, eliminating waste at each stage and making any surplus food readily available to those in need.  This requires close co-operation of all actors and I am confident that the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste will help accelerate our progress towards SDG Target 12.3".

Peter Bakker, President and CEO, WBCSD:

“Wasting a third of the food we produce is an alarming symptom of our profoundly broken global food system. It is easy to see the business logic in improving this ratio: what you don’t waste, you don’t have to produce. Addressing this through Target 12.3 will also bring a range of other benefits – we’ll require less natural resources for production, and we can improve food security and efficiency simultaneously. To help achieve this goal, WBCSD is bringing together companies from around the world to lead the way for the private sector in accelerating the transition to a world with truly sustainable food systems.”

Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé:

“Momentum is growing toward achieving Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3. I am convinced that by working together, we can accelerate efforts and develop effective solutions to help reduce food loss and waste globally. Nestlé will play its part. Bold action is what matters, and we are already committed to achieve zero waste for disposal in our sites by 2020.”

Wiebe Draijer, Chairman of the Executive Board, Rabobank:

“With the global launch of Champions 12.3 this year, essential stakeholders worldwide have committed to join efforts in the reduction of Food Losses and Waste. We believe it is now time to identify the most imminent causes of food loss, to develop solutions, and to assemble the coalition to identify business cases and make investments bankable.”

Peter Freedman, Managing Director, The Consumer Goods Forum:

"The CGF is proud to be associated with Champions 12.3 and welcomes the report published today. Our Food Waste Resolution sets targets that are fully aligned with SDG 12.3 and we are now focused on implementing it. Consistent with the second step of the approach endorsed by Champions 12.3, this summer we partnered with the World Resources Institute to launch the first ever global standard for the measurement of food loss and waste (FLW). Now, consistent with the third step, we continue to support our members’ implementation actions, through educational webinars on the FLW Standard and sharing best practices.”

Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste, World Resources Institute:

“It's appalling that one-third of all food the world produces is lost or wasted. It's not just about the lost food and the obvious economic, social and environmental impacts. Food loss and waste is also a significant contributor to climate change. We have a critical issue on our hands and we must better manage resources in order to sustain generations to come. I’m heartened at the efforts to reduce food loss and waste that have gained traction in the past year, and with even greater action by governments and businesses we can accelerate global progress toward Target 12.3.”

Marcus Gover, CEO, WRAP:

“The world’s growing population has implications for land, environment and resources, so ensuring food systems are fit for the future is one of the biggest challenges of our time. WRAP has been working on this for over a decade, forging partnerships and galvanizing action through the Courtauld Commitment. As a result, since 2007, we have helped reduce food waste by over a million tonnes per year, across retail, hospitality and food service, and in the home. Our ambitious goals align with Target 12.3, and I’m delighted to see that through Champions 12.3, good progress is already being made.”

Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organizations for Food and Agriculture:

“Worldwide, food loss and waste impedes food security and fuels climate change. For advancing the agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this issue must be tackled today. Food that is ultimately lost or wasted consumes about a quarter of all water used by agriculture, requires cropland area the size of China, and is responsible for an estimated 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Yolanda Kakabadse, President, WWF International:

“I am delighted to support this excellent initiative which aims to inspire ambition, mobilise action, and accelerate progress to reduce global food waste all along the path from source to the table. Reducing food loss and waste is a vital first step to achieve local and global food security whilst reducing the pressure on nature. It is the start of a longer journey to create a food system that ensures people and nature thrive in harmony."

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever:

“The pathway to achieving a world where no food goes to waste is set out in Champions 12.3 Progress Report. We need to set clear targets, measure the problem and take action working with governments, private sector, civil society and consumers. Ending food waste will help fight food insecurity, reduce costs for the global economy and mitigate climate change.”

Achim Steiner, Director, the Oxford Martin School:

“Whether you take an ecological, economic or ethical perspective, reducing food waste and loss makes eminent sense.  Recent efforts in Europe are heartening in terms of meeting SDG Target 12.3.  From information to legislation – we need ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure that producers and consumers can work together along the whole supply chain to ensure that food loss and waste are significantly reduced.”

 

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Champions 12.3 is a coalition of executives from governments, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, farmer groups and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030. World Resources Institute and the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands serve as co-secretariats of Champions 12.3.

Learn more at www.Champions123.org

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