With growing concern about hunger around the world, the stubborn fact persists that the problem with food waste is one of distribution, not supply. In the United States and United Kingdom, anywhere from 33 to 40 percent of food is wasted. Food waste is also a problem in other affluent regions of the world, including East Asia and the Middle East.
Unilever quotes the statistic that 400,000 tons of food are wasted annually, much of it in restaurants and professional kitchens--at a cost to business. To that end, the food and consumer packaged goods giant branched out its United Against Waste campaign to its North American division.
The campaign, one of Unilever’s many initiatives, includes three high-level steps. First, businesses who are interested can sign up online receive an information packet from the company. Business owners can learn new tips (or ones many of us have simply forgotten) on how to reduce their amount of food waste. Finally, Unilever encourages participants to submit success stories that are then shared with others in the program.
While Unilever’s United Against Waste is targeted at restaurants and food service companies, some of the tips can translate into the homes, where plenty of food waste occurs:
Clearly other reasons are behind the massive amount of food waste in society. Regulations that make it difficult for retailers to donate food to charities; the policies of the retailers themselves; and misleading “sell-by” and “expiration” dates that are good for marketers but confuse consumers. Restaurants provide a vivid example of how steps taken to avoid food waste can help waste diversion efforts, so Unilever’s collaboration with the food service industry is a solid approach to confronting this problem.
Leon Kaye, based in California and who has recently returned from the Middle East, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo of enormous breakfast sandwich too big to finish at a Portsmouth, NH diner courtesy Leon Kaye.
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.