The challenge, announced yesterday by the EPA and USDA, asks farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and government agencies to reduce the volume of food waste sent to landfill, recover wholesome food for human consumption and recycle discards for other uses, such as animal feed, compost or energy generation.
General Mills and Publix co-chair the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, whose members include the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association and dozens of companies such as McDonald’s, Walmart and Waste Management.
Food waste is the single largest type of waste entering US landfills, according to EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe who says Americans throw away up to 40 percent of their food. Food in landfills also creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period, according to the EPA.
As part of its participation in the Food Waste Challenge, General Mills says it will donate ingredients, packaging and finished products to hunger-relief charity Feeding America, which the company says could save about 30 million pounds of waste.
General Mills previously set a 2015 global sustainability goal to reduce solid waste generation by 50 percent from a 2005 baseline. The company’s efforts to decrease food waste generation have reduced overall waste generation at its manufacturing facilities by 40 percent since 2005.
Unilever says it will send zero food waste to landfill at its 22 US food processing and manufacturing plants and headquarter offices. The company has also committed to reducing waste in its agricultural supply chain.
In January, Unilever announced that 133 of its global manufacturing sites achieved zero waste to landfill by end 2012.
Last month, Unilever — along with Coca-Cola Enterprises, AB InBev and Nestlé and 41 other UK retailers, manufacturers and brands — committed to reducing food and drink waste by 1.1 million metric tons by 2015 in the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment.
Photo Credit: USDA