Let’s Eliminate the Trash

August 22, 2012

Now comes the time to educate and empower supermarkets, food companies and consumers to think about reducing food waste and changing behaviors.

The National Resource Defense Council estimates that about 40 percent of all food here in the United States goes uneaten – that’s about $165 billion wasted each year; and costs the average family of four between $1,350 and $2,275 a year. To paint an even better picture, that's about 20 pounds of food wasted per person each month. As we have seen America’s waistlines grow, so has the amount of food we waste. In fact, NRDC estimates we discard 50% more food than we did back in the 1970s.
As the voice of the CPG industry, Pam Bailey President & CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association, says that they have in place a great program for Sustainable Waste Management. GMA has identified that “food waste” is a major contributor to landfills (which NRDC reports is the single largest component of solid waste), so understanding where all that food waste comes from has been a major focus for the Association over the past year.
Now comes the time to educate and empower supermarkets, food companies and consumers to think about this problem and to change our behaviors.
And the timing may be perfect. The just-released Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group reports that 39% of Americans feels “the most green guilt” for wasting food (that's almost double the number who feel guilty about non-recycling or forgetting to bring their own bags to the store).
In the UK, where a public awareness program called “Love Food Hate Waste” began five years ago, over 50 of the country’s leading food retailers and CPG brands have committed to reduce waste in operations and supply chain. In 2012 the European Parliament passed a resolution to reduce food waste by half by the year 2020.
McKinsey Consulting recently reported that one action that could help reduce waste would be the standardization and clarification of expiration dates on foods. One waste reduction organization estimates that just this one “fix” could prevent up to 20 percent of food waste at home.
As the GMA Board Meeting and Executive Conference commences in Colorado Springs this weekend, we at The Lempert Report urge all members of the Association and our retail partners to keep the focus on this critical and expensive issue.