Food industry groups publish toolkit for reducing food waste

April 21, 2014

An alliance of food manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators has announced the release of a toolkit to help businesses in the food sector reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfill. The “Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Toolkit” was produced by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), a cross-sector industry initiative led by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

“The Food Waste Reduction Alliance has been working to tackle food waste challenges within the food sector since 2011, but we know that there are companies out there that are just starting to look at the issue,” said Gail Tavill, Vice President, Sustainable Development for ConAgra Foods and one of the toolkit authors. “Our goal for the toolkit is to elevate the issue of food waste within the sector and enable more companies to take action by sharing key learnings and model practices gleaned from organizations who are at the leading edge of this issue.”

Approximately 80 billion pounds of food waste are discarded in U.S. landfills each year. The majority of food waste is generated at the residential level, but it can also be a byproduct of manufacturing, retail, and foodservice operations. The FWRA toolkit focuses on strategies food manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators can employ to keep food out of landfills, and to reduce food waste at the source.

The model practices and emerging solutions were compiled from the more than 30 FWRA member companies that are focused on reducing food waste within their operations. Specific topics discussed include:

  • Tactics for overcoming obstacles to food donation such as liability and supply chain issues
  • Emerging solutions and new technologies for recycling food waste, including energy production opportunities
  • Strategic planning to avoid food waste generation

The toolkit also offers a “Getting Started” section for companies that are just beginning to consider food waste reduction strategies. Conducting a waste characterization assessment, establishing standard operating procedures, and developing collaborative relationships with partners from the anti-hunger community, waste management providers, and other stakeholders are among the starting points outlined. Real-life examples and case studies of the approaches discussed are found throughout the toolkit.

Toolkit (pdf)