The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
Reducing food loss and food waste is a shared responsibility. All stakeholders at all levels need to be involved: governments, the private sector, civil society, development agencies, research and academic institutions and consumers. But collaboration is key – particularly between the public and private sectors, and with research.
The Get Involved Guide offers a range of key messages, facts and figures as well as areas of actions that stakeholders can take to reduce food loss and waste. Find out below how each one of you can take action to reduce food loss and waste.
UNEP estimated that each one of us produces 74kg of food waste on average each year – this is heavier than the average person! (UNEP, 2021).
Consumer food waste is a global challenge, not limited to developed countries, and significant almost everywhere it has been measured. Awareness of the problem of food waste – and its impacts on climate change – is increasing. Speak up, and help make wasting food socially unacceptable.
Changing a few habits can make a big difference:
- Schedule a weekly ‘Use It Up’ Day or ‘Use It Up’ Meal to make the most of leftover ingredients
- Designate a shelf in your fridge for ‘Eat Me First’ perishable foods.
- Write a shopping list and avoid bulk promotions.
- Measure portion sizes for rice, couscous and pasta.
- Store food optimally and understand date labels.
- Share leftovers with friends and neighbours or donate food, especially before going away and after holidays.
- Grow your own fruits and vegetables to enjoy them at peak freshness. Preserve or donate surplus.
- Help glean in your community, recovering edible landscape like tree fruits and nuts.
- Compost any remaining food waste and inedible parts or ask your local government about food waste collections.
Cities are uniquely positioned to lead the fight against food waste. Cities can be nimble in their policy development and program implementation, and have direct regulatory control over solid waste and many public health issues that dovetail with food waste. By reducing wasted food, cities can stabilize municipal waste management costs and meet climate and sustainability goals. By rescuing surplus food, cities can address food gaps. And by recycling food scraps, cities can minimize what ends up in landfills. To do so, they can:
- Prepare and adopt holistic plans to aims to reduce food waste.
- Stimulate investments in food loss and waste reduction activities through green public procurement, the establishment of food-waste free public canteens or municipal markets.
- Incentivize community-supported agriculture and initiatives that reduce food loss at the primary level, such as urban food gardens
- Create a local food environment that encourages a wide range of public and private actors to develop food waste prevention activities
- Raise awareness and educate about the value of food through educational program or impacting campaigns stimulating citizens to reduce food waste.
- Incentivize the creation of bio-waste management systems to ensure remaining food waste is valorized.
National governments can achieve climate and environmental targets, while at the same time improving food security and saving money for families and businesses, by adopting food loss and waste reduction policies and actions. They can:
- Commit to working toward transforming national agrifood systems in favour of healthy diets and sustainable agrifood systems that support the natural resource base.
- Raise climate ambition by integrating food loss and food waste in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement.
- When drafting policies related to climate, biodiversity and trade, consider adopting those related to agrifood systems that prioritize aspects such as sustainable production, reduction of food loss and food waste and healthy diets.
- Measure and report on SDG 12.3 using the Food Loss Index and the Food Waste Index
- Develop or support public-private partnerships to tackle food loss and food waste across supply chains and in households, through for example, investing in infrastructural support development to support both food loss and food waste reduction.
- Implement programmes to encourage a change in consumer behaviour to help citizens reduce food waste at home.
- Work with local authorities to increase awareness of food loss and food waste among youth: include subjects related to food loss and food waste in school curricular.
The private sector has a key role to play in imprinting dynamism and accelerating change in food systems. It can also benefit from food loss and waste reduction, as it was proven to bring economic development and contribute to positive indicators in employment, productivity and sustainability. They can:
- Invest in climate friendly research and innovation. Take action to apply and scale up successful innovations that sustainably reduce food loss and food waste across the agrifood system.
- Include green and social targets as key performance indicators in company business models.
- Increase transparency and accountability by measuring and publicly reporting on food loss and food waste.
- Reduce, Re-use or Improve food packaging – excessive or unsustainable packaging adds to the environmental cost of food.
- Engage in public-private partnerships – that could support training, infrastructure development and behaviour change programmes – to collaboratively tackle food loss and reduce food waste across supply chains and in households.
- Pilot and scale interventions to help supply chain stakeholders and consumers to reduce food loss and food waste.
Civil society organizations are key to raise citizens awareness on the real cost of food waste. They can raise awareness on better understanding food labelling, as well as provide tips on food preparation and storage that can help individuals save time, money, as well as reduce waste.
Additionally, civil society can create solutions and schemes to ensure that food losses and wastes are re-distributed to the most vulnerable among our communities, thus reducing food loss and waste. For example, food banks can prove crucial in recovering food from manufacturers, distributors, retailers or individuals and redistributing it to individuals in need, through civil society organizations.
Public and private entities as well as consumers from across the food systems, must work to cut food loss and waste to enhance the use of natural resources, mitigate climate change and support food security and proper nutrition for all. The International Food Loss and Waste: Get Involved guide offers key messages, facts and figures, and actions that stakeholders can take to help reduce food loss and waste.