The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
The Day makes a clear call to action for public and private organizations, from across the food system, and individuals, to work together to cut food loss and waste to enhance the efficient use of natural resources, mitigate climate change, and support food security and nutrition. Select a stakeholder group and browse through the actions that can be taken.
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.
- 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 FLW 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.
By acting on food loss and waste reduction, national governments can reduce climate and environmental impacts associated with food loss and waste while improving food security and saving money for families and businesses. To do so, they can:
- Commit to working on transforming national agri-food systems in support of achieving climate goals.
- Set measurable commitments to transform their food systems and include food loss and waste targets as part of NDCs.
- Increase food waste measurement across the supply chain and in households. UNEP’s Food Waste Index report provides a clear methodology to support countries in measuring and reporting on SDG 12.3.
- Commit to net zero cold chains with the deployment of energy efficient, low-GWP refrigerants and use of renewable energy; both in the expansion of cold chains where they are underdeveloped and in the transition of existing cold chains within countries and international transportation.
- Engage in Public-Private Partnerships to support collaboration to reduce food loss and waste across supply chains, and develop consumer behaviour change programmes to help citizens reduce food waste at home.
- Working with industry and relevant stakeholders, governments should build necessary skills and capacity as well as finance and business models in developing countries to support cold chain industry engagement and technology deployment at scale.
The private sector has a key role to play in imprinting dynamism and accelerating change in food systems, and can benefit from action as FLW reduction brings economic development and contributes to positive indicators in employment, productivity and sustainability. To do so, they can:
- Reduce, Re-use or improve food packaging – excessive or unsustainable packaging adds to the environmental cost of food.
- Companies working together can drive substantial reductions in food loss and. Public Private Partnerships are an important tool for supply chain collaboration, with opportunities to exchange best practice and pilot systemic interventions.
- Enhanced demand planning is a new way to look at managing demand and has the potential to create over USD 5 billion in value. Digital Innovation can support greater efficiency, limit overbuying and food waste.
- Businesses are also playing an important role in making it easier for consumers to reduce food waste, and by making the financial and environmental case for them to do so.
- Industry should run large-scale system demonstrations to show impact of cold chains in food loss reduction and increased food security, and test resilient solutions for scaling.
Most people do not waste food because they want to, and civil society organizations are key to raise citizens awareness on the cost of food they might be throwing away, to disseminate tools to help households eat fresh food while it’s still edible, and communicate provide tips on food preparation and storage that can save time and money as well as reduce waste. Additionally, civil society can organize around solutions that help ensure food losses and wastage is reduced through re-distribution to the most vulnerable among our communities. For example, food banks can play a crucial role by recovering food from manufacturers, distributors, retailers or individuals and redistributing it to civil society organizations and social services.
ActNow is the United Nations campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. Find out more.
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.