Tracking Progress to Halve Global Food Waste: UNEP Publishes the 2024 Food Waste Index Report

The UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024 reveals that the world wasted 1.05 billion tonnes of food in 2022, and the FSSC 22000 Food Safety Certification Scheme’s new requirement aims to significantly reduce food loss and waste across the food industry, aligning with SDG target 12.3 to halve global food waste by 2030.

To catalyze essential action towards reducing food waste and achieving SDG target 12.3 —halving global food waste by 2030 — it is imperative to grasp the extent of food waste and its consequences. Published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in March, the Food Waste Index Report 2024 provides an update on the scale of food wasted worldwide.

In 2022, the world wasted 1.05 billion tonnes of food, amounting to one-fifth (19%) of food available to consumers being wasted at the retail, food service, and household levels, states the report. That is in addition to the 13% of the world’s food lost in the supply chain, as estimated by FAO, from post-harvest up to but excluding retail.

Linking Industry Standards to Food Waste Reduction

These findings confirm the relevance of the Additional Requirement on Food Loss and Waste (FLW) which Foundation FSSC added to its Food Safety Certification Scheme FSSC 22000 as part of Version 6, published in April 2023. The Additional Requirement necessitates organizations holding and seeking FSSC 22000 certification to determine and implement measures to reduce both food loss and food waste.

But what exactly do we mean when discussing FLW? According to Appendix 1 of the FSSC 22000 Scheme Version 6, food loss occurs before food reaches the consumer due to issues in the supply chain during the production, processing, storage, and distribution phases. Food waste refers to food that is fit for consumption but consciously discarded at the retail or consumption levels.

Global Food Waste by Sectors and FSSC's Response

While most of the world’s food waste comes from households, the food service sector (27.56%) and the retail sector (12.44%) still account for 40% of global food waste, states the Food Waste Index Report.

As FSSC 22000 is a Food Safety Management System covering sectors that are prone to food loss, i.e., the manufacturing, transport, and storage of food, as well as to food waste, i.e., retail and catering, we chose to leverage our influence on global food safety through FSSC 22000 and deliver a significant positive impact toward SDG target 12.3.

“We see Food Loss and Waste as a matter of raw material efficiency,” says Foundation FSSC CEO Aldin Hilbrands and explains: “Through our FSSC 22000 Scheme, we want to enable companies to maximize safe food production and minimize food loss and waste. These concepts are two sides of the same coin that are not conflicting but complementary. By maximizing efficiency while minimizing waste, we add to a sustainable food system and help create a better world through improving food security, economic viability while reducing climate impact.”

Conforming with the FSSC 22000 Additional Requirement on Food Loss and Waste (FLW), Certified Organizations in all food chain categories but packaging materials, shall have a documented policy and objectives in place that detail their strategy to reduce FLW across all aspects of its operations and the related supply chain. This requirement, explained in detail in the FSSC Insights Webinar on Food Loss and Waste, underscores the importance of organizational measures to manage the donation of edible products and ensure that these products are safe to consume.

The FLW requirement also considers non-edible food parts, such as eggshells or banana peels, as a type of FLW to encourage organizations to adopt a comprehensive approach to waste reduction and resource utilization. The FSSC Guidance Document on Food Loss and Waste makes corresponding suggestions. For example, instead of sending non-edible parts to landfills, organizations could investigate options such as composting or co-digestion, where these materials are repurposed for energy generation or soil enrichment.

While these measures may seem local, they can compound global benefits when multiplied. With more than 35,000 FSSC 22000 Certified Organizations and roughly 85% of FSSC 22000 certifications within the food manufacturing sector, the first audits to Version 6 started from 1 April 2024 onwards, and all FSSC 22000 Certified Organizations must complete the Version 6 upgrade audit before 31 March 2025. Consequently, all FSSC 22000 Certified Organizations will have integrated the FLW requirements under FSSC 22000 Scheme Version 6 as of 1 April 2025.

Environmental and Humanitarian Impacts of Food Waste

According to the UNEP Food Waste Index Report, food loss and waste generate 8-10% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, almost five times the total emissions from the aviation sector. With global households alone contributing to these GHG emissions by wasting one billion meals of edible food every day, 783 million people are hungry, and a third of humanity faces food insecurity.

Looking at these alarming numbers, the Foundation is all the more committed to helping the consumer goods industry reduce food loss and waste, mitigating both harmful environmental and disastrous humanitarian impacts. Our commitment to deliver against the global SDG target of halving food loss and waste by 2030 goes beyond certification.

Collaborative Solutions and Partnerships

In alignment with The Food Waste Index Report’s emphasis on the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration as a solution for global food waste reduction, FSSC became a member of the Dutch Food Waste Free United platform in 2022. The platform brings together various stakeholders across the food supply chain, allowing FSSC to understand the industry’s needs better and share knowledge, resources, and guidance to tackle food waste collectively.

On a global scale, FSSC has formed strategic affiliations with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Packaging Organization (WPO) on food safety and packaging to reduce FLW and produce safer food worldwide. Through planned collaborative efforts with WPO and its members, FSSC is further determined to explore innovative solutions to reduce food loss and waste from a packaging design perspective, thereby intending less food to be discarded at the retail and consumption level, advance sustainability practices in the packaging industry, and further deliver a positive impact to the consumer goods industry.

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