September 29th marks The UN’s International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. This year, we find ourselves roughly halfway through the timeline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly set a robust agenda for sustainable development by adopting 17 SDGs. Among these, SDG 12.3 was established with a vision to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels, as well as to reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030. The goal recognized the profound impact of food loss and waste on human well-being, economic stability, and environmental health. Roughly ⅓ of our food goes to waste, where food loss and waste equate to over US$1 trillion in economic losses annually and contribute to 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Since the adoption of SDG 12.3 in 2015, significant strides and policies have been made globally, showcasing a united front against food waste. In 2016, the U.S. rolled out a robust food waste policy, and the Champions 12.3 network was established. The subsequent years saw the inception of the French Food Waste Law (2017), World Resources Institute Food Loss & Waste Protocol (2018), and APEC Food Loss and Waste Reduction Action Plan (2018). The UK introduced the Food Waste Fund in 2019, highlighting national efforts to curb waste.
2020 was marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting food supply chains and exacerbating food waste. However, the resolve to combat waste remained unwavering, exemplified by the EU Farm to Fork Strategy (2021) and discussions at the UN Food Systems Summit (2021). The publication of the Global Food Waste Index Report in 2022 underscored the magnitude of the challenge, emphasising the need for accelerated action.
Meanwhile at Winnow, we’re on a mission to fight food waste in commercial kitchens. We’re so proud to see the commendable results of the many businesses that we work with as they scale their food waste reductions across their operations. For example, we were the first to halve food waste worldwide with a major foodservice business IKEA (INGKA Group), across all of their quick service restaurants around the world, saving $37million since 2017.
Another example is Iberostar reducing food waste across its operations by 28%. This week, ISS announced that they have collectively reduced food waste by 30% since 2019, putting them on track to halve their food waste by 2027. Earlier this year, WInnow partnered with Hilton and UNEP to reduce food waste by 61% during Ramadan in 3 Hilton hotels, and will now scale this to more hotels in the Middle East in 2024. This really goes to show that aligning with SDG 12.3 and reducing food waste at scale is possible.
To assess how we are progressing, every year, Champions 12.3 releases the SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2023 Progress Report. Earlier in September, 2023’s report was released where it was highlighted that, while we are halfway through, global progress by governments and companies on achieving SDG 12.3 is slower than needed when compared to the Champions 12.3 Road Map.
It was also highlighted that companies are generally also taking action to address food loss and waste at a greater rate than countries. Specifically, we are proud to see that the Champions 12.3 has highlighted INGKA group at the number one place in the list of company-level reductions in food loss and waste, with 54% reduction - due to our work together.
Though it’s great to see the progress made thus far, in the coming years, it is essential for more companies to step up, and for the government to increasingly put food waste in the national agenda. As highlighted by Champions 12.3, unfortunately, global action is currently insufficient to halve food loss and waste. With the right tools and concentrated effort, reductions in food waste can happen relatively quickly - and it’s up to all of us to work together and take immediate action to meet SDG 12.3 by 2030.