Extending our global impact on food waste

Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP

Just about to head off for RWM and wanted to quickly share some good news that’s emerged overnight, and to offer a sneak preview for what I am going to talk about today. 

Our campaign, Love Food Hate Waste, has extended its global impact as we have secured a partnership with Metro Vancouver to deliver a food waste minimisation programme. It’s a proud moment for all the team on our Love Food Hate Waste campaign that their expertise and learnings will now be delivering benefits around the world as well as giving us a new stream on income. 

What it also highlights is that whether in Vancouver or London, one thing remains the same. There is a common challenge; we’re all consumers of food, so we need to consider the waste impacts this has on a wider scale. WRAP’s work is to help turn that awareness into action. But what’s of real concern is the sheer quantity that we’re consuming and wasting in relation to the available supply and the demographic indicators. As our population grows, so too does our rate of consumption, so we are hurtling towards a crisis that needs fixing not tomorrow, but today. There is certainly growing interest is selfless consumerism. 

In the next 15 years, it’s expected that we will need 50% more food than what we currently produce to meet demand. It’s clear something has to change. It’s clear that is hardly sustainable. 

This can’t just be the responsibility of just a single individual, community, organisation, sector or government. We need a collaborative effort, using a multifaceted approach. We need inter-related activities being done by different parties. What I mean by this is that from a business perspective, we need to be reviewing and applying action to all parts of the chain, from processing, distribution, retail, and encouraging people at home to follow suit. Only if we work together, can we hope to achieve our goals. 

I believe WRAP has a good approach here - bringing different groups together, and delivering success. 

But the main point is that real progress can be made. The Courtauld Commitment shows that since 2005, across the sector we saw reductions of 21% in avoidable household food waste for example.  A real achievement and it just couldn’t have been done single-handedly.  

I think there’s an issue of engagement here too. Are people really aware that the current levels of consumption are not sustainable? Do they realise this could have consequences for the next generation? Supply is going up to meet increased demand, so we do all need to start reassessing our consumption habits. If there was greater awareness, I believe this would go some way to bringing about greater participation.

This is why consumption is one of the topics I’m keen to discuss at RWM today. I’ll be at the event for most of the day and I will be speaking on the panel in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre discussing food waste - I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this subject.

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