by Brianna Crandall — November 21, 2016 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy just announced the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, U.S. businesses and organizations pledging concrete steps to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50 percent by 2030. These include 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.
Secretary Vilsack stated:
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 galvanize U.S. efforts to reduce food loss and waste, USDA and EPA announced the first U.S. 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.
Administrator 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.
In the United States, EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, about 21 percent of the waste stream. Keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of landfills helps communities and the 42 million Americans that live in food-insecure households. Reducing food waste also impacts climate change, as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills.
Each 2030 Champion establishes a baseline marking where they are today and will measure and report on their progress toward the goal in a way that makes sense for their organization. There are many ways to look at food loss, and waste and definitions vary. 2030 Champions are encouraged to consult the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for information on defining and transparently measuring food loss and waste.
For food waste in the United States, EPA’s annual Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures (formerly called Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: Facts and Figures) provides an estimate of the amount of food going to landfills from residences; commercial establishments like grocery stores and restaurants; institutional sources like school cafeterias; and industrial sources like factory lunchrooms. USDA’s 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 percent of the available food supply, about 133 billion pounds of food worth an estimated $161.6 billion.
Cutting food waste in half by 2030 will take a sustained commitment from everyone, says EPA. Success requires action from the entire food system including the food industry, nonprofits, governments and individuals. USDA research estimates that about 90 billion pounds comes from consumers, costing $370 per person every year. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion produces a resource, called Let’s Talk Trash, that focuses on consumer education, highlighting key data and action steps consumers can take to reduce food waste.
Details on becoming a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion can be found on the USDA U.S. Food Waste Challenge Web site and the EPA Sustainable Management of Food Web site . Businesses not yet in a position to make the 50 percent reduction commitment can participate in the Food Recovery Challenge or the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
Additional background and links for the 15 inaugural Champions are available on the USDA announcement.