A new voluntary agreement targeting food waste has been launched, aiming to tackle the $444 billion opportunity of food that goes unsold or uneaten in the United States.
Dubbed the U.S. Food Waste Pact, the initiative was announced by nonprofit partners ReFED and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which made note that 38% of all food is wasted in the United States. For food businesses, that’s $250 billion being left on the table.
Not only is there a big monetary loss in food waste, it also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 6% to U.S. national greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, food waste consumes more than 20% of the nation’s freshwater supply. At the same time, one in eight Americans face food security, according to WWF.
Growing Programs Tackling Food Waste
The U.S. Food Waste Pact comes after the launch of the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment in 2019, which “has been a model for this pre-competitive collaborative approach to driving action in the U.S.” The founders of the PCFWC wanted to further their mission and build their model to scale, resulting in the U.S. Food Waste Pact. The new pact has multiple PCFWC business signatories and other major food businesses signed on, including ALDI, Aramark, Bob’s Red Mill, Compass Group USA, Del Monte Fresh Produce Company, Lamb Weston, Inc., Raley’s, Sodexo USA, Walmart, Inc. and Whole Foods Market.
Signatories to the pact agree to work together with industry peers to cut food waste in half, as well as measure and report food waste data to the U.S. Food Waste Pact annually. Plus, the pact asks businesses to participate in working groups and pilot projects to test, implement, and scale cost-effective and high-impact solutions.
“The U.S. Food Waste Pact is all about measuring and seeing action to reduce food loss and waste,” Pete Pearson, global initiative lead, food circularity at WWF, said in a statement. “Through our work with the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment, we’ve seen how businesses respond when we help them identify the problems within their operations and also offer solutions and insights to fix them. This new initiative serves as a national platform for the private sector to show measured progress against their waste reduction goals.”
The Pact to Help Businesses With Food Waste Strategies
The pact will offer participating businesses detailed custom waste analytics, industry benchmarking, and solution roadmaps, plus human and financial resources to support pilot projects. The data will be anonymized and shared publicly in an annual report.
“The ability to work pre-competitively with our food service peers to take action through both collaborative conversation and pilot projects has been a powerful tool in identifying solutions that turn discussion into tangible progress on reducing food waste,” said Caitlin Leibert, vice president of sustainability, Whole Foods Market. “We look forward to the opportunities the expanded scope of the U.S. Food Waste Pact will bring to our food waste reduction efforts.”
The pact also aims to “provide the missing connection” between other food waste programs, such as the Food Waste Reduction Alliance and U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions by the USDA and EPA, and global efforts such as World Resources Institute’s 10x20x30 initiative.