Community & Corporate Awareness
- Internal Food Waste Assessment: Assess their food waste numbers
- Developing a Business case to reduce Food Waste: Identify the internal business case for reduction, donation and recycling
- Taking actions: Take action within your immediate control
- Look at the entire Supply Chain: Look up and down the supply chain and partners for solutions
1. Internal assessment: Understanding how much food waste a company generates and its related costs is an obvious first step. Also important is gaining a view into where the waste goes, and taking an inventory of steps a company is already taking to reduce and manage food waste. More important challenge is to understand the losses that take place through out a company’s supply chain, distribution stages as well as the extent to which your products have a link to consumers’ wasteful habits. This end-to-end view can give them great insights identifying, new ways to find a solution to food waste.
2. Business case development: The business case for reducing waste will vary by company based on location and waste management fees, type of products bought and sold, as well as regulatory and tax environment. For most companies, it will be some combination of both tangible and intangible benefits — whether saving money or generating new sources of revenue, meeting emerging regulatory requirements or greenhouse gas reduction goals, or building consumer trust and engaging with the local community.
3. Taking actions within your immediate control: The U.S. EPA has developed a food waste recovery hierarchy with the preferred options to make the most of excess food. The initial step is logically to reduce waste in the first place, and many companies are already working hard to drive efficiency in their operations. When items can’t be sold for whatever reason, donating safe and wholesome food to people in need is recommended next, followed by feeding animals. Ideally it is only after these waste avoidance measures are exhausted that companies turn to waste management. The EPA recommends industrial uses, composting and renewable energy options and as a last resort, disposal through incinerators or landfills.
While companies are taking positive steps, a range of obstacles exist to increased recycling and donation. Transportation constraints and liability concerns are the most common barriers to increased donations. The most frequently cited obstacle to increased food recycling is an insufficient number of recycling options.
4. Looking at the entire Supply Chain: Taking action to reduce waste outside one’s four walls is harder but necessary to tackle food waste, and is also increasingly expected of companies. Partnerships are especially valuable when stepping outside one’s direct operations. Stakeholders with whom companies can explore solutions vary greatly from local municipalities, to entrepreneurs providing innovative new technology, waste management and logistics providers, producer and consumer groups, and the hunger-mitigation community. A wealth of multi-stakeholder initiatives — with more emerging — are aimed at tackling food waste.
In sum, reducing the amount of wasted food is an opportunity to meet multiple corporate objectives. Assessing corporate food waste and current activities, building the case for internal support and taking action both in company’s own operations and all along the value chain are four simple steps that will help create a practical and action-oriented path to what is a fragmented and multi-faceted issue.