National and international organisations have called for the setting up of food waste reduction targets, pointing out that as much as a third of the food produced globally is wasted.
In a report entitled Reducing Food Loss and Waste published on the World Environment Day (5 June), United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Resource Institute (WRI) recommend introducing food loss and food waste reduction targets at global, national, local and corporate levels.
“Setting quantifiable, time-bound targets could raise awareness, stimulate focused attention, and mobilise resources toward reducing food loss and waste,” the report stated.
Global targets could be set in the context of the development agenda after the coming to a close of the current Millennium Development Goals in 2015, it added.
The organisations suggested that the target could be worded as: “By 2030, reduce the rate of postharvest food loss and waste by 50%”.
Post-harvest waste is the main source of food waste in developing countries as a result of a lack of equipment and infrastructure, according to the report.
UNEP and WRI said that national targets could be then be set to support a global one, and cited the example of the EU 2020 target of reducing food waste by 50%.
The organisations argued that companies could also set their own set of targets for food waste reduction, and mentioned the example of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary grocery waste reduction scheme, managed by WRAP in the UK.
UK statutory food waste targets urged
Another call for the creation of statutory food waste reduction targets came for the UK’s International Development Committee ahead of an international nutrition summit hosted by the UK Government this week.
Sir Malcolm Bruce, chair of the International Development Committee, said that the Government could take a number of actions to tackle the issue of food waste at the household level, for example by launching a national awareness campaign.
Bruce added: “Alongside this the Government should also set national targets to curb food waste within the UK food production and retail sectors, with clear sanctions for companies that fail to meet these targets.”
However, any mention of WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign or the Courtauld Commitment was conspicuously absent in the committee’s recommendations.
Chilling effect on biofuels from waste
The committee also called for agriculturally-produced biofuels to be excluded from the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), as MPs said that agriculturally-produced biofuels are having a major detrimental impact on global food security by driving higher and more volatile food prices.
Renewable Energy Association chief executive Gaynor Hartnell strongly disagreed with this recommendation. She claimed “biofuels can bring in enhancing food security and reducing carbon emissions” because they help improve agricultural productivity and generate high-protein animal feeds.
She said removing the RTFO subsidy for agriculturally-produced biofuels would “see millions of pounds of investment squandered and increase the cost of meeting renewable energy targets. It would also send icy chills down the spines of any prospective future investors in advanced biofuels made from wastes.”