UNEP Releases Paper on Reducing Food Waste

unep-world-environment-day5 June 2013: Marking World Environment Day 2013, which is being celebrated under the theme of 'Think.Eat.Save - Reduce Your Foodprint,' the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a working paper on reducing food waste. Titled 'Reducing Food Loss and Waste,' the paper was produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI) drawing on research from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), and is the second in a WRI series on creating a sustainable food future.

The working paper draws distinctions between food waste in developed and developing countries, indicating that in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the US, food waste occurs at the consumption stage. In contrast, food waste in developing countries occurs close to the farm, after harvest and storage.

The paper contends that reducing food waste can make significant progress toward a sustainable food future. It proposes several ways to reduce food loss, including: facilitating food redistribution or donation; using evaporative coolers in places where refrigeration is unavailable; introducing hermetically sealed plastic storage bags for crops; using small metal silos; using plastic crates instead of bags for crops; changing food date labels to reduce consumer confusion about when food is unsafe; conducting consumer awareness campaigns about how to reduce household food waste; and reducing portion sizes at restaurants and cafeterias.

The paper makes five specific policy recommendations, including: develop a food loss and waste measurement protocol; set food loss and waste reduction targets; increase investment in reducing post-harvest losses in developing countries; create entities devoted to reducing food waste in developed countries; and accelerate and support collaborative initiatives to reduce food loss and waste. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: Reducing Food Loss and Waste]