28th Jul 20 by Megan Romania

Not a moment to waste on food waste action.

Nearly 11 years ago, Feedback was founded by Tristram Stuart and Niki Charalampopoulou to challenge the scandal of global food waste and to catalyse action on the massive climate mitigation potential of meeting SDG 12.3 to halve food waste by 2030. After working on this issue for over a decade, we could not be prouder to announce that we are 2020 Laureates of the prestigious Keeling Curve Prize for our seminal work. We’re very humbled and grateful to be recognised in this way.

Our work on food waste remains as critical now as it was a decade ago.

Food waste represents an ecological catastrophe of staggering proportions: The UN estimates that 1/3 of all food produced goes to waste, generating 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. Growing this wasted food gobbles up 1.4 billion hectares of land, equivalent to 28% of the world’s agricultural area.

It’s clear that reducing waste is a significant opportunity to mitigate climate change. Indeed, Project Drawdown ranks reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 as the most effective way to tackle climate change.

Business action has bloomed over the past ten years, often focused on redistributing ‘surplus’ food that arises under their current business model. However, the most effective way to mitigate the environmental and climate impacts of food waste is to prevent this waste from occurring in the first place. For example, biodiversity loss is primarily driven by the expansion of the agricultural frontier; reducing food waste could liberate significant land to reverse biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems and/or increase afforestation to sequester significant volumes of carbon.

While the UK has made progress over the past decade, this progress has not been sufficient to meet the scale of the challenge. Over the past few years, business-level food waste has reduced by a mere 1% a year. Voluntary industry agreements on tackling food waste have resulted in inadequate results, including low rates of business participation, a lack of transparent food waste reporting, unambitious targets to reduce food waste by only 21% between 2015 and 2030, and the total exclusion of primary production food waste from national targets.

Unless we take serious, immediate measures to reduce our food waste, we risk not meeting our SDG 12.3 target and further exacerbating climate change, as well as hamstringing the UK’s ability to reach net zero.

We have been campaigning for demand-side food system policy since COP24. Now, COP26 is one of our most critical, not-so-distant next-steps to ensure the UK commits to binding food waste targets as part of the national strategy to reach net zero and to ensure the Nationally Determined Contributions include bold, ambitious and binding statutory targets and regulatory action to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 across the whole supply chain, from farm to fork.

Will you join us, by calling for the UK government to make it the law for all large food business to be transparent about how much food they waste?

What can you do next?

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