Addressing the Global Food Waste Scandal

5k_logoBlog post by Tristram Stuart, Feeding the 5000

There are nearly one billion hungry around the world. At the same time, at least one third of food produced around the world for human consumption –approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — is lost or wasted every year. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that less than a quarter of the food wasted in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe alone could lift a billion hungry out of malnourishment.

What steps can we take to stop the global food waste scandal?

First, there is the urgent need to catalyse changes in social attitudes to food waste, from businesses to civil society. Secondly, we need to encourage and develop innovative solutions to the myriad problems associated with food waste. Thirdly, and perhaps paramount, is the need for concrete commitments from governments worldwide to create changes to existing policies. Without political change, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to tackle the mountain of global food waste.

The good news however, is that change is slowly beginning to happen. In the United Kingdom for example, the recent implementation of a Groceries Code Adjudicator to oversee the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers paved an important step forward in stopping supermarkets from telling their suppliers to throw away excess product.

In Belgium, legislators are tackling the issue of food waste by introducing a more systemic distribution chain for unsold food. The Wallonian regional government, as well as the Brussels regional government recently ruled that unsold consumables from supermarkets must be given to associations active in the food distribution sector before heading to recovery or waste disposal. Not only do these types of policy changes address the ethical issues surrounding food waste, but they speak directly to environmental problems, as the heaps of unconsumed food around the world turn into waste themselves, producing methane.

With political ground softening in Belgium, it makes it ripe for the possibility of implementing a Belgian Groceries Code Adjudicator and why stop there? Why not introduce a European Union wide Groceries Code Adjudicator– or at least implement one in each member state?

In order to address these questions, as well as the need to tackle food waste at the policy level, Feeding the 5000 will be attending the European Parliament’s Sustainable Food Conference on 2 April 2014. At this meeting we will discuss the Commission’s imminent food policy and propose actions to combat the global food waste scandal.

Prior to the conference, on 1 April 2014, Feeding the 5000 will also be in Brussels. Only this time we will be serving up 5000 free lunches made from ingredients that otherwise would be wasted. Through the event we aim to empower and inspire the global community to enact positive solutions to the global issue of food waste. We hope to see you there!