As the federal government eyes climate policy, advocates issue call to action to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030.
Each year, between 30-40% of all food in the United States is unsold or uneaten. Most becomes food waste, heading straight to landfill, incineration, down the drain, or left in the fields—all while millions face hunger and our ecosystems are degraded. Addressing this challenge is essential to building a regenerative and resilient food system that helps to mitigate climate change, reverse nature loss, and feeds more people.
The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), ReFED, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with support from companies, NGOs, and other stakeholders are calling on Congress and the Biden administration to take ambitious action to achieve the goal of cutting US food loss and waste in half by 2030, through five key actions:
- Invest in the infrastructure to measure, rescue, recycle, and prevent organic waste from entering landfills and incinerators.
- Expand incentives to institutionalize surplus food donation and strengthen regional supply chains.
- Assert the US Government’s leadership on FLW globally and domestically.
- Educate and activate consumers via private and public food waste behavior change campaigns.
- Require a national date labeling standard.
“We know that food loss and waste has major environmental, economic, and social implications,” said Emily Broad Leib, faculty director of FLPC and professor of law at Harvard Law School. “The U.S. Food Loss and Waste Action Plan outlines critical solutions to ensure government spending and incentives are aligned on benefiting these areas, including climate change and food insecurity. There is an urgent need for the federal government to implement structural reforms through law and policy to better enable food waste reduction along all aspects of the food supply chain, and we encourage Congress and the Biden administration to start with the recommendations brought forth by our coalition.”
“Many organizations have made significant progress on the issue of food loss and waste, but we can move faster with the full backing of the US government,” said Pete Pearson, senior director of food loss and waste at WWF. “We need investment in the infrastructure necessary for diversion—to keep good food from going to landfill—which will yield immediate environmental and social benefits. But we must also focus on preventing waste in the first place, meaning investments that fully commit to measuring the problem at scale. The US can and should show leadership here, implementing game-changing solutions for the rest of the world to emulate.”
“Food waste is at the intersection of many of our nation’s most pressing problems including climate change, hunger, health, and racial inequity— all which require bold federal action,” said Yvette Cabrera, food waste director at NRDC. “Solutions to tackle food loss and waste already exist and have been implemented across the country, but more needs to be done. The federal government is uniquely positioned to advance these efforts and create widespread change that will help reach our climate goals and build a more just and equitable future. We urge Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to address this problem and fix the long-standing social and environmental issues in our food system.”
“Government is the critical linchpin in the fight against food waste,” said Dana Gunders, executive director of ReFED. “Policy can create an environment that accelerates the adoption of food waste reduction solutions at a large scale. By incentivizing food practices, penalizing bad behavior, or clarifying what activities are allowed, each policy has the power to spark the food system into action.”
To learn more and read the complete Action Plan, visit FoodWasteActionPlan.org.