Consumer Goods Forum Makes Tough Pledge to Tackle Food Waste

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nestle-ukThe Consumer Goods Forum (the CGF), which includes major manufacturers Nestle and Unilever, has announced its commitment to tackling the global food waste challenge by agreeing to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025.

Food waste is an enormous environmental, social and economic challenge. A third of food calories produced are never eaten. It represents an economic cost to the global economy of $750 billion per year and, if food waste were a country, its carbon footprint would be third only to China and the US.

The CGF’s Board of Directors has, therefore, approved a new resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025 and to support wider UN Goals on the issue. This is yet another milestone in the consumer goods industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership.

This Food Waste Resolution is the third resolution of the CGF’s Sustainability Pillar. It complements Board-approved resolutions made in 2010 on achieving zero net deforestation by 2020 and beginning the phase-out hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants by 2015.

Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke, who is Co-Chair of The Consumer Goods Forum, said: “The resolution on food waste the CGF Board of Directors has adopted demonstrates our willingness to engage and take action in an area where a collective industry effort can make a difference.”

The CGF resolution complements Nestlé own recently announced commitment to reduce food loss and waste as part of its broader Creating Shared Value commitment to improve the resource efficiency of its operations.

The CGF recognises that unchecked climate change will have a huge impact on the consumer goods sector, its customers and employees. With the COP21 Climate Summit occurring in Paris later this year, this new Food Waste Resolution, together with the CGF’s work on deforestation and low carbon refrigeration, demonstrates the industry’s commitment to play a leading role in limiting global temperature rises to 2°C.

Central to the Food Waste Resolution is the aim to set a clear benchmark for food waste arisings today and set measurable goals to reduce food waste in the future. The Resolution specifically commits to aligning the industry around the Food Loss & Waste Protocol being developed by the World Resources Institute.

The Food Waste Resolution focuses on two key areas:

•    Preventing food waste, then maximising its recovery towards the goal of halving food waste within the retail and manufacturing operations of CGF members by 2025, versus a 2016 baseline.

•    Contributing to the UN goals by 2030 to:

•    Halve per capita global food waste at the consumer level; and

•    Reduce food losses along production and supply chains including post-harvest losses and maximise the value of the remaining waste.

The Consumer Goods Forum believes that the industry has a responsibility to show strong leadership on food waste reduction – a belief supported by its Board of Directors. The reason being:

•    In a world of rising population, increasing cost of food, concerns about inequality and growing food insecurity, food waste is one of the greatest challenges of our time with 30% (1.3 billion tonnes) of food produced being wasted each year.

•    Food waste is also responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere per year. If food waste was a country it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases globally after China and the US.

•    The water footprint of food waste is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva.

•    The value of food wasted each year is $750 billion.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and Board Co-Sponsor of the CGF’s sustainability work said, “The CGF commitment to reduce food waste strikes at the heart of the global climate and development challenge. It is a tragedy that up to two billion tonnes of food produced around the world is lost or wasted never making it onto a plate. At a time of growing food insecurity and climate change, we can’t afford to let this continue. This resolution marks a step change in industry leadership and is an important contribution to the longer term sustainable development agenda”.

Marc Bolland, CEO of Marks and Spencer and fellow Board Co-Sponsor of the CGF’s sustainability work said, “Tackling food waste makes sense for the consumer goods sector. It saves money, improves food security, conserves water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions – it’s an all-round win. We’re committed to helping our members significantly reduce food waste and to sharing our learnings and expertise with the wider food industry”.

In order to help CGF members implement the new resolution, an implementation plan has been developed. The plan includes key steps that will help develop a baseline, monitoring and public reporting mechanisms, communication and engagement plans and implementation toolkit.

These will all be supported by food waste-specific events and webinars that will be open to both CGF and non-CGF members. More details on these to follow.