Assessment- Measuring Food Waste
The FWRA realized at the outset of its efforts that accurate assessments of the volume of food waste being produced by each sector -manufacturing, retail and foodservice – would be fundamental to affecting meaningful reductions in food waste.
Prior to the FWRA’s efforts, most studies that attempted to measure waste were based on estimates and extrapolation. The FWRA set out to collect more accurate measures based on data directly from participating companies, working with non-profit think-tank BSR as its research partner. The result has been a series of studies that aims to benchmark and track the progress of FWRA sectors against their goal of reducing food waste.
Emerging Solutions & Best Practices
FWRA released a survey highlighting the great strides being made by manufacturers and retail companies in food donation, food waste reduction and diversion from landfills. The following year, the Emerging Solutions & Best Practices subcommittee of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance used those study results to begin identifying the best practices within the manufacturing, retail and restaurant industry. The compilation resulted in the very first FWRA Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Toolkit outlining strategies from food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators and sharing strategic approaches to assist likeminded organizations to keep food out of landfills and reduce food waste at the source. Food waste reduction efforts are constantly evolving, and, in November 2015, FWRA released a second volume, providing additional insight; revisiting model practices and emerging solutions compiled from more than 40 FWRA member companies and expert partners from the hunger relief and waste management sectors; and featuring new real-life examples and case studies.
Food waste is a problem all across the U.S. and the Food Waste Reduction Alliance is working to meet this challenge in many ways. The Policy subcommittee focuses on the public policies in various parts of the country that create incentives for food donation to those in need or that result in robust infrastructure for landfill alternatives, such as composting facilities. We know that there is no “one size fits all” solution for food waste, but we also know that some parts of the U.S. have high donation rates and/or many options for diverting food waste from landfills.
The policy subcommittee will identify a short list of policies that create those high rates of food donation and infrastructure options.
The FWRA’s Guiding Policy Principles:
- The FWRA supports and endorses the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) food recovery hierarchy to prioritize actions to prevent and divert food waste.
- The FWRA supports voluntary actions to reduce food waste and is making great strides in food waste reduction through voluntary activities by our members. For example, the FWRA is working to increase food donation, collect food waste data through our assessment survey, create tools for waste reduction, streamline date labeling to decrease consumer confusion, and share best practices on source reduction, food donation, composting, and anaerobic digestion.
- The FWRA advocates for educational efforts to increase public awareness around food waste issues including date labeling, liability protection for donation, and source reduction.
- The FWRA advocates for policies that support the development of the food waste recycling and donation infrastructure across the nation. Having a cost effective way for businesses to recycle food waste is essential and building the infrastructure is the first step.
- The FWRA advocates for policies that are designed to economically reduce, recover and recycle food waste. The FWRA also advocates for uniformity in policies within states on the issue of food waste.
- Standardized policy is useful in this area because cities, counties, and municipalities can often enact different policies. This patchwork can be difficult to comply with, lead to confusion, and produce a barrier to reducing food waste and increasing donation.
- The FWRA advocates for increased federal and state tax incentives to encourage food donation and increased liability protection for donors.
FWRA’s Work and Policy Guidelines
The Communication subcommittee of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance engages with stakeholders working on food waste reduction and food donation in the U.S. Groups like the U.S. EPA, USDA, Composting Council, and the Natural Resources Defense Council are all working on specific aspects of food waste. Learning from and sharing findings with these thought-leaders is an important role of the Communications subcommittee.
The Communications team also works to educate diverse audiences about the issue of food waste and the work of the FWRA. Through speaking engagements, tools and best practices guides, the Communications subcommittee is raising the profile of this issue nationwide. There is no better opportunity to help feed the hungry and reduce our environmental footprint than tackling the challenge of food waste and the communications subcommittee is the a critical component of reaching our goals.