Since the Great Recession companies that handle food, all along the supply chain, have been taking a harder look at their food waste numbers in an effort to boost profits, or in some cases survive.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, working in conjunction with food manufacturing, food retailing and restaurants formed the Food Waste Alliance to help companies take a harder look at what they’re throwing out and make reductions. Meghan Stasz, Director of Sustainability for GMA:
“It was formed in 2011 and it’s a joint venture between food manufacturing, retailing and restaurants. The goals are: reduce the amount of food waste that is generated; increase the amount of healthy food that is being donated; and for the waste that is unavoidable (plate waste) find other alternatives than landfills.”
Stasz explains the areas of focus of the alliance:
“The first is assessment; we do a series of surveys to the three industries about how much food waste they generate and where it goes. Also how much food they are donating. We are getting more and more participation in those which means that more companies are thinking about this issue. We also work around emerging solutions and put out a best practices guide to help companies start a reduction program. We also have a policy arm that looks around the country where there are really good infrastructure options for food waste that is an alternative to landfills and then see if we can implement those policies in other parts of the county.”
While it’s easy to point to restaurants or grocery stores as the primary wasters of food, Stasz says food wasted at home is the biggest contributor:
“The data we have seen from studies by reputable agencies like EPA and USDA, indicates that of the food waste that is sent to landfill, up to 40% is from the consumer. We are working toward more studies on what consumers are throwing away and why. We want to know how to educate consumers about what to buy and how to shop smarter.”
We’ll be hearing more from Megan Stasz on food waste reduction, later on Inside Agriculture.