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Restaurants, Manufacturers, Retailers Offer Best Practices in New Guide to Cutting Food Industry Waste

Image credit: Food Waste Reduction Alliance

Food waste has proved to be a persistent global challenge despite numerous efforts to reduce it from stakeholders throughout the value chain, from corporates, to non-profits, to startups. At the same time, it may not be obvious to business owners and employees what they can do to be reducing food waste in their daily operations.

To help, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) has released the 2015 Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Guide offers practical steps and examples to help food manufacturers, retailers, and restaurants cut food waste. More than 30 member companies across the food industry contributed insights and case studies, including The Campbell Soup Company, Kroger, Walmart, Yum! Brands and Sodexo.

“The real value this project offers is the perspective of industry – compiled by companies for companies,” said Christy Cook, Director Sustainability Performance and Field Support at Sodexo. “It shares industry successes and suggestions around how to overcome potential food donation obstacles such as liability issues, transportation constraints and insufficient storage and refrigeration at food banks. It also highlights ways to recycle food waste such as recovering energy from food waste materials and redirection of organic materials.”

The report is the second annual guide from FWRA, which is led by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The goals are to reduce the amount of wasted food generated, increase the amount of safe, nutritious food that is donated to those in need, and recycle unavoidable food waste to divert it from landfills.

To start reducing the amount of food your business sends to landfills, the guide recommends:

  • Conducting a waste characterization assessment;
  • Establishing standard operating procedures; and
  • Developing and/or strengthening relationships.

Descriptions, links, and examples are provided for each of these steps. Contributions from Del Monte Foods, Darden Restaurants, Wegman’s, Waste Management and other companies ensure that there is representation along the entire food chain, reinforcing that the guide has something helpful for every food business.

The guide also offers solutions to donation barriers and best practices for food donation programs, from grocers such as Weis Markets, Inc. and Hannaford Supermarkets. Featured partnership success stories include:

  • The Campbell Soup Company’s partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey and farmers in New Jersey to create Just Peachy salsa from undersized peaches that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Retail proceeds benefit the food bank.
  • ConAgra Foods, Inc. changed the way it transitions from one pudding flavor to another to create blended flavors rather than waste leftover product by flushing the manufacturing line. The mixed-flavor puddings are donated to those in need.
  • Sodexo, Aramark Corporation, and other food service operators stopped using trays in dining halls and cafeterias, which resulted in food waste reductions.

“Approximately 80 billion pounds of food waste is discarded in U.S. landfills each year and the issue is now getting national attention following the announcement of USDA and EPA’s first-ever national food waste reduction goals in September,” said Patti Olenick, Sustainability Manager for Weis Markets, Inc. “In order to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2030, corporations everywhere will be looking to do their part. This guide should be the first step they take.”

Hannah Furlong is an Editorial Assistant for Sustainable Brands, based in Canada. She is researching the circular economy as a Master's student in Sustainability Management at the University of Waterloo and holds a Bachelor's in Environment and Business Co-op. Hannah… [Read more about Hannah Furlong]

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