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Global food waste standard backed

An international standard for the definition and reporting requirements to manage food loss and waste has been launched at a Copenhagen conference.

The Food Loss and Waste (FLW) accounting and reporting standard is the first set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to measure, report on and manage food loss and waste in a consistent and credible manner.

The FLW standard was backed at the Global Green Growth Forum by organisations including WRAP, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Resources Institute.

Andrew Steer, Institute president, said FLW was “a real breakthrough”.

“For the first time, armed with the standard, countries and companies will be able to quantify how much food is lost and wasted, where it occurs, and report on it. Now, we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources and ensure more people get the food they need.”

WRAP’s retiring chief executive Liz Goodwin (pictured centre) said WRAP’s work to help reduce household waste by 21% in the UK had been achieved because of “ground-breaking analysis” to quantify how much and where it was wasted.

“Food waste is not confined by borders, so WRAP is delighted to have helped develop the FLW standard. I am confident it will empower businesses, governments and other organisations to take action on an international scale, an outcome that WRAP will strongly support,” she said.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis added: “We are pleased to have been the first UK retailer to publish third party-assured food waste data for our own operations and will continue to do so every year.

“This transparency and hard evidence is a cornerstone of our food waste work. Not only has this allowed us to identify where there are waste hotspots in our own operations, but it has also helped us to take action in those areas of food loss and waste. The standard provides a common framework for measuring loss and waste, and I hope this will enable others to publish their data and take action to tackle this important issue.”

Organisations can use the standard to meet international commitments, including the Paris Agreement on climate change and UN Sustainable Development Goals, one of which calls for a 50% reduction in food waste globally by 2030.

  • An estimated one-third of all food is lost or wasted worldwide as it moves from where it is produced to where it is eaten, even as more than 800 million people are undernourished
  • Food loss and waste globally costs up to $940bn (£650bn) a year
  • Food loss and waste generates about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, food loss and waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the US

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