By Marjorie DePuy, Senior Director, Supply Chain and Sustainability, FMI and Andy Harig, Vice President, Tax, Trade, Sustainability & Policy Development, FMI
In business, trial and error often lead to valuable observations and even successful programs. Trial and error can also be expensive, especially when attempting to shift a cultural norm or make the business case for a new process or philosophy. With the pressure mounting to build more measurable progress on food waste reduction solutions, companies are looking at their current approaches and evaluating a menu of evolving options.
Along this food waste mitigation and management journey, the companies we represent within the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) have experienced their fair share of trial and error and are always open to sharing best practices. Recently, FWRA released a whitepaper that offers tips from foodservice manufacturers, grocers and restaurants to prove how organizations can reduce food waste from within. Messy but Worth It – Lessons Learned from Fighting Food Waste is a practical guide for building commitment and making steady corporate changes.
We had the opportunity to interview food manufacturers, grocers and foodservice operators for this guide regarding their best advice on reducing food waste, and throughout these interviews five key themes emerged:
- Forge an internal food waste prevention culture. Education and cross-functional teamwork will help you shift the status quo at your company.
- Research local infrastructure. Know your opportunities for food diversion at the local level. This will dictate what you’re able to do.
- Recover and redistribute surplus food to feed people. Work with nonprofit partners to improve and expand your efforts to donate food. You’ll enhance your community impact and feed hungry people in your area.
- Measure your current status or it won’t get managed. Measure the volume of food waste inside your operation.
- Consider composting. If you have the option, our experts say it’s a great addition to a comprehensive diversion strategy.
FWRA shares a common goal of enhancing food loss and waste reduction, and we signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to formalize a mutual initiative to collaborate on industry education and outreach. We continue to partner on a national effort to educate and engage our sectors; inform stakeholders; share best practices; and encourage safe and effective food donation and recovery.
In the spirit of our commitment, we hope the advice in this guide will inspire companies either get started or build on their efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle food waste.