IKEA recognises Food is Precious with goal to cut waste in half

IKEA has introduced a new food waste initiative, Food is Precious, aiming to cut food waste by 50 per cent by the end of 2020, and has doubled down on its commitment by joining Champions 12.3, the global coalition for food waste hosted by the World Resource Institute.

IKEA recognizes Food is Precious with goal to cut waste in halfThe initiative is a smart scale solution and measures wasted food and its sources, allowing IKEA staff to identify the problem and come up with innovative ways to tackle the causes of food waste. The smart scale solution has a built-in touch screen connected to a floor scale beneath a waste bin to measure food waste.

Stepping up to the food waste challenge in a world where 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year globally, one quarter of which could feed 870 million malnourished people around the world, IKEA’s innovative solution, trialled from February 2015 and rolled out officially from December 2016, is already bringing positive results.

With the ultimate goal of cutting food waste in IKEA food operations at its restaurants, bistros and Swedish Food Markets, so far 84 stores – 20 per cent of all IKEA stores around the world – have brought in the new food waste system, saving over 79 tonnes of food waste, equivalent to 341 tonnes of C02 and 473 flights between Stockholm and London.

A survey of IKEA co-workers revealed that some 70 per cent were proud of the initiative and around 50 per cent were also changing their waste habits at home.

Commenting on the initiative, Lorena Lourido, Country Food Manager at IKEA UK & Ireland, added: “We are proud to have been the pilot country for the Food is Precious initiative and have now rolled out the food waste solution across all UK & Ireland stores. So far, we have calculated that the majority of UK & Ireland stores are already reducing their food waste by between 20 per cent and 45 per cent.

“I am proud of IKEA Food co-workers across the country that have really embraced this initiative and we also hope to inspire our customers to think differently about food waste. This is a natural step in the overall work we do as IKEA retailers, being a responsible company that cares for people and planet.”

Food waste champions

IKEA also announced that it has joined the Champions 12.3 coalition, a group of around 40 industry leaders in government, business and civil society committed to driving ambition, mobilizing action and progress towards realizing Target 12.3 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to ‘halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses’ by 2030. The Government of the Netherlands and the World Resources Institute serve as co-secretariats of Champions 12.3.

Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director of Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute, said: “The power of this unique coalition is that it brings together high-profile leaders from a range of sectors impacting the global food supply to motivate and demonstrate that reducing food loss and waste is possible and necessary. As a Champion myself, I’m thrilled to have Michael and IKEA join our ranks.”

Meanwhile, Marcus Gover, Chief Executive at WRAP, stated: “We all need to unite in the food waste fight. I am delighted that Michael La Cour is joining the Champions 12.3 coalition and look forward to working with IKEA on reducing food waste. Only by businesses, governments and citizens coming together and taking action can we tackle what is a key issue of our generation.”

Although IKEA’s sustainability credentials have been questioned by some for the store’s proliferation of ‘fast furniture’, it has made a conscious effort to promote recycling and sustainable consumption, featuring prominent messaging in store and in 2015 partnering with behavior change charity Hubbub to promote sustainable living at home.

The ‘I Will’ campaign aims to determine how far companies should go in encouraging customers to live more sustainably and will examine what changes need to be made to encourage environmentally-friendly customer behaviours – producing less waste, using less energy and waster, and living more active lifestyles.

You can find more information on IKEA UK & Ireland’s sustainability initiatives in the IKEA UK & Ireland Sustainability Report FY16 on IKEA’s website.

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