A Roadmap to Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent

via Dana Gunders at Switchboard, the NRDC’s blog, March 9, 2016:

For anyone hungry for more information about reducing food waste, today is a day to feast. “A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste By 20 Percent” delivers a robust analysis of 27 different practices that prevent, rescue, or recycle food waste. It dives deep into the details and emerges with a straightforward estimate of how much food could be saved and how much implementation would cost or save in dollars. The biggest surprise for me: from the high-level, “societal” view, every single practice saves more in food value than it costs to implement. In fact, the overall investment in these practices would pay back five-fold in the value of food saved.

  • NRDC is proud to be a partner in this report, which was produced by ReFED, spearheaded by Mission Point Partners, and written by Deloitte Consulting and Resource Recycling Solutions.[1] When we first envisioned the Roadmap, we knew there was will to act on reducing food waste–the United States, the United Nations, and the Consumer Goods Forum (a consortium of about 400 companies) have all set goals to reduce food waste by 50 percent in the next 10 to 15 years. However, no one has really established a path to get there. There was a void in answering what to do and what to do first. Thus was born ReFED’s Roadmap as an effort to provide an analysis to aid prioritization and inspire action–to help companies, investors, philanthropists, governments, and others determine where their focus will get the most food-waste-bang for buck.

Read the full report or key insights.

A few observations by Gunders, based on the report:

  • We’re wasting $218 billion in food per year, over $50 billion more than the commonly used USDA figure of $162 billion
  • Fully implemented, the Roadmap’s solutions “would generate 15,000 new jobs, mostly from building and operating compost facilities, utilizing compost, and distributing rescued food”
  • Solutions will require public and socially-minded investments: “Not all of the solutions pencil out from a direct investment perspective. Nevertheless, it’s in all of our best interest for less food to be wasted. We therefore need a significant amount of public, philanthropic, and socially-minded investment to pay for things that don’t result in direct returns.”
  • Consumer solutions make good investments. “Consumer education and standardization of food date labels top the chart for tons of food saved per dollar invested. Fortunately, here at NRDC, we happen to be doing quite a bit on both of those topics. In fact, next month, we will be launching a large public education campaign in partnership with the Ad Council.”

Investments Yield Big Value

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