Last week, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) — whose membership includes hundreds of consumer brands from a range of industries around the world, including food giants Campbell Soup, Clif Bar, Hershey, Mars and Procter & Gamble — announced a new resolution to mitigate the roughly 40 percent of food wasted globally by agreeing to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturer 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.
"The CGF commitment to reduce food waste strikes at the heart of the global climate and development challenge,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and Board Co-Sponsor of the CGF's sustainability work. “It is a tragedy that up to two billion tons 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."
The Need for Food Waste Reduction
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 percent (1.3 billion tons) of food produced being wasted each year.
- Food waste is also responsible for adding 3.3 billion tons 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.
Marc Bolland, CEO of Marks & 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."
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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 of hydro fluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants by 2015.
The CGF recognizes 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 happening 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 Resolution focuses on two key areas:
- Preventing food waste, then maximizing its recovery towards the goal of halving 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 maximize the value of the remaining waste.
"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,” said Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé S.A. “We will leverage the best practices we have developed for the implementation of the existing resolutions on deforestation and refrigeration to engage the CGF's wider membership in the global effort on food waste. With this third resolution, we believe that the CGF is taking additional important steps in contributing to the international action on preserving natural resources, especially water, and to limiting the global temperature rise to 2°C."
Driving Implementation and Positive Change Globally
In order to help CGF members implement the new resolution, an implementation plan has been developed, which includes key steps that will help establish a baseline, monitoring and public reporting mechanisms, communication and engagement plans and an 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.