Did you know that one-third of the world’s food goes to waste every year? Did you know that food waste takes up the most space in U.S. landfills? Did you know that food waste in landfills contributes to methane gas emissions? Or that these emissions are 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. One of the most impactful ways food manufacturers can improve their environmental footprint and corporate sustainability measures is to reduce waste. Let’s learn how!
Food Waste vs. Food Loss
When it comes to food byproduct waste, there are two key terms to remember: food loss and food waste. Food loss occurs when products spoil, spill, or damaged during production and distribution. Food waste occurs when consumable food is discarded, usually at the retail stage or at the consumer level. Because food manufacturers are at the early stage of production, they’re typically exposed to loss rather than waste. Regardless, there are plenty of actions manufacturers can take to reduce both.
Wasting Away The (Triple) Bottom Line
For many food manufacturers, loss and waste can have a massive impact on the bottom line if not addressed. From 2018 to 2019, the U.S. spent $218 billion growing, processing, and disposing of food, costing businesses $74 billion. Of that total, the value of unconsumed food would be worth $408 billion. It’s not just company returns impacted by food waste. The process of food manufacturing can drain natural resources, such as water, energy, and land. In fact, 8.2% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste.
4 Ways Food Manufacturers Can Tackle Waste
The great news is there are endless ways to address food waste, including:
- Adopt a new food recovery method. The USDA and EPA created the food recovery hierarchy, This hierarchy suggesting actions like source reduction, industrial reuses, composting, and feeding the hungry instead of sending waste to landfills. Take your pick!
- Lean into the circular economy. Foodware 365’s 8-step circular economy plan for the food industry outlines a sustainable model. This model includes new products, smarter distribution, reuseable packaging, recyclable byproduct waste, and consumer education.
- Look at what others are doing. Unilever has committed to halving its direct food waste by 2025. They also committed to work with partners to tackle food waste and educate consumers about smarter buying habits.
- Work with integrators that can help you achieve your goals. Waste and byproduct management companies have solid industry relationships that ensure your food waste is reused, recycled, or disposed of.