Combating food waste on World Environment Day
Today, June 5, is World Environment Day 2015—a day presented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a day to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the betterment of the environment. According to the UNEP, this year’s theme is “Seven Billion Dreams: One Planet. Consume With Care,” drawing attention in particular to the idea of responsible management for the world’s resource. In the food and beverage industry, that can easily be translated as the major pressing issue of food waste—what are we doing about it, and what can be done to improve?
“In the United States, 40 percent of edible food is wasted,” says advocacy group Food Tank. “Throwing away good food wastes natural resources.” Food waste is a huge problem within the food industry that is being addressed with great force right now in various ways. One of the most sweeping changes to combat food waste occurred just recently in France, where officials decided to tackle the problem on a legislative level by governing that supermarkets must begin donating edible food past its “sell-by” date to charities and nonprofits for use in feeding people or animals in need.
Elsewhere it’s up to individuals to keep up by making change of their own. This week Doug Rauch, former president of the Trader Joe’s supermarket chain, launched a nonprofit supermarket based on the principles of providing affordable food while combating food waste. The Daily Table, launched in the Massachusetts neighborhood of Dorchester, aims to rely on food nearing its sell-by date to keep costs low and provide people from all walks of life with healthy and affordable fresh food and ready-to-cook meals.
Other organizations are making a difference by looking into what retailers and producers are doing and helping them improve. Food Tank hosts a global list of forward thinkers in this arena including (to name just a few):
- Love Food Hate Waste (U.K.)
- Culinary Misfits (Germany)
- Food Recovery Network (U.S.)
- FUSIONS (European Union)
- Food Waste Reduction Alliance (U.S. – a joint initiative between the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association)
Of course that’s only the tip of the iceberg. But the more organizations exist to address the issue of food waste, and the more retailers and producers take the initiative to meaningfully address the issue firsthand, the closer the industry will be to making the problem a thing of the past. On World Environment Day, it’s something to think about.
[SOURCE: Food Tank]
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