Stop Food Waste Day occurs each year on April 28 to educate, raise awareness and fight against food waste globally. Launched in 2017 by the US division of global foodservice leader Compass Group, consumers and corporations across over 30 Compass countries work together to educate and encourage change when it comes to food waste.
Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the food waste epidemic continues to worsen. In 2011, the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that around one-third of all food produced globally is wasted each year. Since then, food waste has become an issue of great concern to the public — but it is still an ongoing challenge and has the capacity to be stopped.
If the lack of understanding of how to productively use and conserve food continues, food waste statistics will continue to rise. However, Stop Food Waste Day aims set food waste statistics on a downward trajectory over time. The fundamental goals of the day include fighting hunger, poverty and climate change and encourage the health, wellbeing and sustainability of agriculture and oceans through food waste education.
History of Stop Food Waste Day
Before going global in 2018, Stop Food Waste Day was first introduced by Compass Group USA in 2017 with the goal of halving food waste by 2030, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development goal number 12.5. As one of the world’s largest foodservice groups serving restaurants, hospitals, schools and more, the pledge could have a massive impact — so how will they do it?
In North America alone, the Compass Group serves around 9.8 million meals a day. To cut down on the amount of food waste, Compass focuses its efforts on teaching chefs how to track and reduce as much waste as possible. Whatever food can’t be used, Compass aims to donate more than 250,000 pounds of food to food banks each year.
But Stop Food Waste Day goes beyond Compass. It aims to educate consumers and corporations about their own food waste and collaboratively create solutions for farming, producing, purchasing and using food. It also hopes to change how leftovers are used and offers creative recipes, such as vegetable peel pesto and banana peel biscuits, to take advantage of food that may otherwise go to waste.
How To Celebrate the Day
Food is wasted across all parts of the food supply chain, whether during harvesting, transportation or by retailers. Stopping food waste can be done at all of these points, too. Food companies can start by purchasing unused food and upcycling it. Often costing around the same as other suppliers, upcycled foods are often more appealing to consumers looking for ways to live more sustainably. Since the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) recently launched the first upcycled food marker for food packaging, food companies can also apply to have the label on their packaging.
If produce makes it through the harvesting stage, it often gets damaged during transportation. But there are several ways it can be salvaged. First, it can be upcycled into a new product. Or, it can be sold by retailers as “imperfect” at a reduced cost. For example, Loblaw’s, a Canadian grocery retailer, launched a line of fruits and vegetables called “Naturally Imperfect” back in 2017. The produce is sold at a discount of up to 30 percent compared to its better-looking counterparts.
Consumers also have a part to play in reducing food waste. In addition to buying upcycled or damaged food products, they can reduce food waste by taking advantage of leftovers, checking the pantry or refrigerator prior to grocery shopping and avoid buying in bulk unless they plan to consume it before the expiration date. Consumers can extend the life of foods by simply storing them properly or freezing them, if applicable.
Whether small or large, any ongoing effort by consumers and corporations to cut down on food waste can make a difference.