Business

Major US companies promise to halve food waste

Fifteen major US companies have pledged to take concrete steps to reduce food loss and waste by 50 per cent in their operations by 2030, in a partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

The businesses and organisations, grouped together as the US Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, include food giants General Mills, the Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, and Walmart. 

Major US companies promise to halve food waste

In the US, the EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in everyday waste, accounting for about 21 per cent of the waste stream. Keeping wholesome and nutritious food out of landfills helps communities and the 42 million Americans that live in food insecure households. Since 20 per cent of American methane emissions are from landfill, reducing food waste is also vitally important for preventing climate change.  

Through the pledge, each signatory has agreed to established a baseline marking of where they are today and will measure and report on their progress. The companies are encouraged to consult the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for information on defining and transparently measuring food loss and waste.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that the amount of food that went uneaten at the retail and consumer levels in the baseline year of 2010 represented 31 per cent of the available food supply, about 60 million tonnes of food worth an estimated $161.6 billion (£129.7 billion).  

Leaders in every field needed to reach food loss goal

Announcing the pledges, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: “The founding 2030 Champions have shown exceptional leadership in the fight to reduce, recover and recycle food loss and waste.

“The staggering amount of wasted food in the United States has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change. To help galvanise US efforts to reduce food loss and waste, USDA and EPA announced the first US food loss and waste reduction goal in September 2015. Today, the first 15 Champions are stepping up to do their part to help the nation reach this critical goal.”

Dr Mehmood Khan, Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Global Research and Development at PepsiCo, said: “Companies like ours have an important role to play in supporting the communities where we live and work, including cutting food waste in our operations and finding new ways to put more nutritious food in the hands of those who are hungry and undernourished.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy added: “Reducing food waste is good for business, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for our communities.

“We need leaders in every field and every sector to help us reach our food loss goal. That’s why we’re excited to work with the 2030 Champions and others across the food retail industry as we work together to ensure that we feed families instead of landfills.”

Companies moving forward despite Trump’s pledge

The announcement of food waste reduction commitments marks progress despite President-Elect Donald Trump’s pledge in April to axe the “Department of Environmental”, which he said was “killing us environmentally, it’s just killing our businesses”.

Trump has expressed the belief that climate change ― a top issue at the agency under President Barack Obama ― is a hoax, and has recently appointed climate change denier Myron Ebell to head his transition team for the EPA. Ebell is a supporter of many polluting energy companies and has a history of supporting policies that protect polluter profits over public health. He opposes policies to protect clean air and water.

Ebell’s appointment came after EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy highlighted her agency’s accomplishments during President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, when she listed the work she is most proud of in her four years as the administrator ― rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, rules on disposal of coal ash, and rules clarifying what waters are governed by the Clean Water Act.

The 15 companies that have signed up to the Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions programme are: Ahold USA, Blue Apron, Bon Appétit Management Company, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, Delhaize America, General Mills, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Unilever, Walmart, Wegman’s Food Markets, Weis Markets and YUM! Brands.

More information about the US Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions programme can be found on the US EPA’s website, and more information on the issue of global food waste can be found in Resource’s feature article.

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