World organizations introduce global food waste measuring and reporting standards
- The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW Standard) is the first set of definitions and reporting requirements for manufacturers regarding food waste and how to consistently and credibly measure, report on, and manage it.
- The standard was recently launched at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) 2016 Summit in Copenhagen by the FLW Protocol, a partnership of leading global organizations, such as the Consumer Goods Forum, FAO, WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme), and World Resources Institute.
- The U.S. has been making its own moves toward food waste reduction, such as proposing legislation for a federal code dating standard, but the FLW Standard proves how widespread concerns are about food waste across the globe.
Food loss and waste is a globally recognized issue, but many manufacturers don't know where or how food is lost or wasted within supply chains. And when they do, they don't always have accurate or consistent methods for measuring or reporting on it, which prevents the development of effective strategies to manage or eliminate food waste issues.
FLW Protocol members hope to change that with the new standard. The 160-page document outlines definitions for related terms, such as "food," "inedible parts," and "loss and waste;" goals for food waste reduction, such as improved food security, economic outcomes, or economic sustainability; and accounting and reporting requirements, including recommended quantification methods, assurance statements, and peer review/third-party verification.
Manufacturers can share knowledge and experiences with other companies. Manufacturers may form partnerships to reduce food waste in supply chains with commonalities, such as those within similar product categories.
Or manufacturers may lead coordinated marketing campaigns to improve consumer awareness of food waste and best practices for food storage and preparation. About 44% of food waste occurs at the consumer level, according to recent testimony by the GMA in front of the House Agriculture Committee. While much can be done internally to reduce food waste, manufacturers could have an even greater impact through outreach and consumer education.
The global FLW Standard can also improve profitability for manufacturers. Reducing food waste means reducing lost resources, including ingredients, fuel, and labor. With a global standard to help manufacturers and other food industry entities better communicate, entirely new product categories and industries may be built around food waste solutions, such as packaging or premium bottled water made from food waste.