Nearly 200 food companies and suppliers, including some of the largest producers in the world, have pledged to halve their food waste by 2030. The companies, including Nestlé, Kellogg Co. and Campbell Soup Co., have joined the 10x20x30 initiative, a global effort to slash the staggering amount of food that is discarded every year.
The announcement came Wednesday from the World Resources Institute, a global research organization that focuses on seven critical issues at the intersection of environment and development, including food. The big food makers on the list join some of the world’s largest food retailers, who last year signed on to the campaign.
The initiative was given its numerical name because it originally brought together ten of the world’s largest food retailers, including Walmart Inc. and Tesco, to each persuade at least 20 of their priority suppliers to halve food waste by 2030.
The companies will release annual reports about their food loss and waste and will be encouraged to share the information on the Food Waste Atlas, a searchable website. But how they meet their targets will vary, an institute representative said.
According to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization, about 30 percent of the world’s food is unharvested or thrown away at various points in the supply chain. And all that loss is a big contributor to climate change, accounting for eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Food manufacturers are only part of the equation. About 80 percent of food waste happens in homes and in consumer-facing businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, according to a report by the nonprofit ReFED. Food manufacturers account for only two percent of the problem, while consumers are responsible for 43 percent.
“The challenges of climate change and the loss of nature are approaching crisis level,” Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart, told Bloomberg in an interview. “If we want to avoid the worst consequences, we have to take action now. If we could eliminate all food waste, what would that mean to reduce pressure on nature and to reduce emissions? It’s one of the easiest levers to go after.”
Another food waste initiative, called the Champions 12.3 Group, is calling on food producers and retailers to collaborate to cut the amount of food wasted in the system or to redirect it to those in need.
They said governments should include food loss and waste reduction in their national commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. Likewise, companies should include food loss and waste reduction in their emission reduction strategies, which should also be science-based.
The willingness of big manufacturers to sign on to such initiatives is encouraging, but the ultimate goal with these types of collaborations will be to achieve more transparency and data sharing. That way, companies will know what is working and what is not.