1. Alison Chan
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. Friday, 18 December 2020
Hi All

I'm curious why there's so little discussion about the affect of food waste on global heating? According to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste is the most effective single action that we could take to limit heating to 2C. Furthermore, it would bring other benefits such as providing more affordable food for the poor and reducing the need for agricultural land. It seems like a no brainer to me. However, only a handful of countries are taking meaningful measure.
References
  1. https://drawdown.org/solutions/reduced-food-waste
  2. https://drawdown.org/solutions/table-of-solutions
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I'm not sure that food waste can be handled effectively at the national level. It is getting a lot of attention at the local level in the U.S. Many cities like my own (Denver) have established dynamic food rescue programs that intercept food that is heading to the landfill due to cosmetic blemishes or approaching "sell by" dates and redirects it to hungry people in need. Our airport (fifth busiest in the U.S.) has a program that allows all food vendors in the facility to send such food to cold storage lockers on site, from which food rescue companies pick it up for distribution. The program was so successful that the airport needed to increase the size of the lockers by a factor of four. My company is working on an update of the climate change plan for Fort Collins, Colorado, and reduction of food waste will be an element in it. I'm not sure how I would propose dealing with food waste at a national level; it's easier to address it locally, where people shop, cook, eat and waste.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Jerry Tinianow

Thanks for the reply. I'm very happy to hear that you're involved in a successful food rescue program.

I'm in Australia, and from afar, it seems like a lot of the successful environmental programs in the US are happening at a state or city level. To a substantial degree, the same is happening in Australia.

It's good to hear that the Fort Collins climate change plan will factor in food waste. I wonder what proportion of other plans do the same? It seems like this is a relatively straightforward way to make massive reductions in emissions, while also achieving other important outcomes like feeding the hungry and reducing habitat destruction.

Sadly, many environmental issues have become highly political. But my guess is that food recue should be something that all sides can get behind. I'm curious whether in your experience these programs are garnering bipartisan political support?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Bipartisan support would not be determinable at the national level in the U.S. because no one has proposed a national-level solution. It's not even clear what that national solution would be. Pre-consumer, the big issues are cosmetic issues and sell by/expiration dates. Even if our national government removed any requirement relating to food cosmetics, and even if it did not require sell by dates at all, retailers would likely still impose cosmetic and sell by requirements.

At the local level food rescue has bipartisan support, because why would anyone oppose it? I don't really remember it coming up even with respect to the expansion of composting, a principal post-consumer food waste solution. Collection of compostables can draw political opposition because of concerns about vermin, but that concern does not concentrate in one party as opposed to the other.

The other tool to combat food waste is to get people to buy less food in the first place. Less food means less food waste. Governments in the U.S. are reluctant to get into consumer quantity choices, however.

One innovation we've implemented in Denver is to offer financial counseling at food banks. It's optional, but if customers are interested they can get help from a counselor on issues like making and sticking to household budgets, reducing utility costs, how and why to get a bank account, and reducing debt. When I was Denver's Chief Sustainability Officer (2012-19) we viewed community embankment (the number of people who had bank accounts) and community credit scores as indicators of the level of sustainability of our city.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 3
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
France introduced national food waste legislation in 2016.

Apparently the results have been mostly positive:

https://beyondfoodwaste.com/france_food_waste_ban/
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 4
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Many thanks for the insights Jerry Tinianow. Interesting stuff!

Ben Bailey, I knew about the French law but had not read that story. Appreciate you sharing!
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 5
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Thanks for calling our attention to the French legislation, Ben Bailey. It's certainly worth consideration in the U.S., Because our national government will still be so divided after 20 January, the Biden Administration will want to study whether something like the French legislation could be imposed using existing authority, without requiring new legislation.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. Climate Emergency
  3. # 6
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I stumbled on this WWF report about food loss and waste:

https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/sites/default/files/wwf_food_waste_and_loss_final.pdf
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