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Addressing the Food Loss and Waste Challenge – a WRAP perspective

Gover, M., Swannell, R. & Reynolds, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-1073-7394 Addressing the Food Loss and Waste Challenge – a WRAP perspective. In: von Braun, J. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Workshop Food Loss and Waste Reduction. Scripta Varia, 147. . Vatican City: The Pontifical Academy of Sciences.


Unsustainable production and consumption of food constitutes one of the biggest environmental threats to our planet. Eliminating food loss and waste to the largest extent possible – at all stages from producer to final consumer – stands out as an urgent and indispensable step towards more sustainable food systems. In fact, recent research shows that tackling food waste is the third most effective intervention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the most important priority of our time (Hawken 2017). The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 sets out a specific target on food waste to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030. In order to measure global progress towards SDG 12.3, two indices have been proposed: the Food Waste Index (Global Innovation Exchange 2018) and the Food Loss Index (Fabi and English 2018). Successfully achieving SDG 12.3 requires new thinking, new partnerships and new actions to reduce resource use, and increase the efficiency of the production, preservation, processing and distribution of food at the producer, intermediary, processor and wholesale level. It needs wider education, increased awareness, and behavioural change among citizens, retailers, and policy makers across the globe. The goal is to produce more food to feed the world’s expanding population, while reducing land use, fertilizer applications and critically dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Flanagan et al. 2019). To help deliver this critical target, Champions 12.3 has been formed (Champions 12.3 2016). It is a unique coalition of executives from governments, businesses, international organizations, research institutions, and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3. It has produced a trajectory for delivering 12.3, what needs to happen and by when that provides the critical “roadmap for change” (Champions 12.3 2017a). In this paper we provide the perspective of WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) on the economic, social and environmental case for action, what research shows works in driving change and how these activities might be scaled to deliver SDG 12.3. WRAP is a not for profit organization, based in the UK and working in more than 20 countries worldwide, that aims to help people and planet thrive. WRAP is a leader in tackling food loss and waste effectively and supporting international food loss and waste prevention projects – including Champions 12.3. Since 2007, WRAP has been a partner in many global food loss and waste projects and initiatives and has co-authored key reports. This includes EU projects such as FUSIONS (2016) and REFRESH (2020a), as well as the development of the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (World Resources Institute 2016). In the UK, WRAP, food businesses and other partners have delivered large-scale interventions to reduce food waste across supply chains, and households for more than ten years (since 2007), supported by UK Governments and by businesses and enabled by a series of collaborative public-private partnerships. WRAP’s work in the UK with its partners has helped reduce food by 27% or 1.7 Mt/y saving food worth £5 billion/ year. Cumulatively the total food waste reduction has been 18.5 Mt worth US$50 billion (WRAP 2020a). This paper highlights the importance of tackling food loss and waste, using specific recent examples from the UK and Mexico. Second, we discuss the business case for addressing food loss and waste. Thirdly we highlighting two approaches that research shows can be particularly effective at driving change at scale, and we conclude by proposing a three-point plan for tackling food waste to deliver SDG 12.3 over the next 10 years.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

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