Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Plans to lead a public-private partnership to address wasted food were announced by the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), which facilitates collaboration on issues that cross state borders and jurisdictional boundaries, were announced on 8 September. The PCC and partners are calling on food retailers, supply chain partners and food manufacturers to join the West Coast Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Wasted Food.
Pete Pearson, senior director of Food Loss and Waste at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a conservation organization protecting the future of nature, says the goal is to reduce and prevent wasted food in the region by 50% by 2030. He says this will have benefits including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water and land resources, as well as supporting those facing food insecurity. “The Pacific Coast of North America represents the world’s fifth-largest economy, a region of 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion and the agreement will serve as a model for other regions around the country to do their part to reduce food waste. Signatories will share data through a sector-specific Food Loss and Waste Calculator tool by ReFED, a non-profit working to end food waste through data-driven solutions,” he says. Signatories may also opt into topical working groups by WRAP, a non-profit working to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency, and the WWF, to support the implementation of food waste reduction initiatives. By signing the voluntary agreement, signatories commit to the following: • Contributing to a regional commitment to reduce regional food waste by at least 50% by 2030; • Establishing a baseline year, measuring progress in reducing wasted food over time and submitting an annual Food Waste Report in accordance with a measurement framework defined by signatories; • Participation in pre-competitive, collaborative working groups to share lessons learned and best practices, and develop solutions to collective challenges; • Support efforts to reach commitments where possible via facilitated convenings and local engagement, implement meaningful actions that reduce wasted food and achieve annual reporting goals. “Food security has become critical in the wake of COVID-19 as the amount of food at risk of being wasted has risen and more Americans are seeking food assistance. This collaboration may be the most effective way to combat food waste and it is critical to have measurement across supply chains, introducing interventions aimed at prevention to maximise positive impacts for the health of people and planet. This approach has the potential to transcend the Pacific Coast region to a global solution to address a major driver of climate change,” says Pearson. Currently one in seven Americans is food insecure, a number expected to grow as food banks and food pantries struggle to keep up with increased demand due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic. However, in the United States, about 40% of perfectly good food is wasted each year, roughly 180kg for every American.
There are opportunities for food waste reduction including food recovery, where good food is rescued before it goes to waste and is delivered to relief organizations that distribute it to those struggling with food insecurity. When less food is wasted, resources used to grow the food including more than one trillion gallons of water are not wasted and there is potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18 million tons. Food waste reduction also has economic benefits with the US currently spending $218 billion a year growing, processing, transporting and disposing food that goes to waste. Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED, says reducing food waste at scale requires a systems-level approach and through collaboration across the West Coast, they have the opportunity to lead the way in diverting nearly 63 million tons of food wasted every year in the US to increase food security and combat climate change.
Washington, Oregon, California and the cities of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Vancouver are working together to build the low carbon economy of the future. Jenny A. Durkan, mayor of Seattle, says food waste remains an enormous contributor of greenhouse gas emissions for their city and region and in Seattle they are committed to addressing all sources of carbon emissions from transport, to building emissions to food waste. Claire Kneller, head of food at WRAP, says tackling food waste plays a huge part in addressing the two biggest challenges of our generation which is tackling climate change and sustainably feeding the world’s growing population. She says WRAP is delighted to be involved in this important initiative which will bring significant benefits for the environment and the economy. “We look forward to working with our partners, learning and sharing experience from the Courtauld Commitment, an international award-winning voluntary agreement, which our latest figures show, has been instrumental in putting the UK over halfway towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12.3,” she says.