Time to unite in the Food Waste Fight: The business case to act and reduce food waste and loss

Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP

With one third of all food produced on this planet wasted or lost, food waste is a colossal challenge we can’t afford to ignore.  

Neither can businesses, municipalities, and governments afford to ignore our new report, co-authored with the World Resources Institute, on behalf of Champions 12.3.

‘The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste’ report finds significant returns for company and government investments to reduce food loss and waste – figures every CEO and leader needs to sit up and take notice of.

The new data is from real business experiences of more than 1,400 sites across 700 companies throughout 17 countries.  It shows categorically that the median financial costs to benefit ratio of taking action is 14:1.  In other words, 50 percent of businesses achieved a return of 14 pounds for every 1 pound spent, or better.  That’s a rate on return investment equalling 1,300 percent.  And 99 percent of businesses got a positive return on investment. 

It is not just businesses that benefit financially. Data from our household food waste initiative in West London shows how the local government agencies received an 8 pound return for every 1 pound it spent.  When adding in the benefit to consumers, who saved on their household food bills, the overall benefit was 92:1, and household food waste was reduced by 15 percent in just six months.  

That reduction in household food waste across the UK has plateaued, following success in 2007 – 2012, serves to highlight the need to keep food waste high up on the agenda and regularly evaluate, review and adjust our approaches.

The richness of the debate at the EFRA select committee I attended recently showed that that there is no one single answer to what is a multi-faceted challenge, and that change needs to happen at every point of the food chain – from the way it is farmed, supplied, packaged, sold, consumed and recycled. 

What is clear though is change we must.  We need to unite in the food waste fight as the economic, social and environmental consequences of inaction are tremendous. 

Change comes with a cost, but also with benefits. The monetary return on investment is a strong incentive.  The ‘Business Case’ report also highlights a number of non-financial reasons for acting to reduce food loss and waste.  Food security, environmental sustainability, operational improvements, stakeholder relationships, and a sense of “ethical responsibility” can all be key drivers for a company’s reputation.

The challenge is complex, but our message is simple: Target, Measure, Act.  Above all act.  The food waste fight is one we can win by coming together, and the business case is clear to see.

 

You can read the full ‘Business Case to Reduce Food Loss and Waste’ report here

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