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Tackling food waste: The role of ReFED in achieving global goals

Tackling food waste: The role of ReFED in achieving global goals
Tackling food waste: The role of ReFED in achieving global goals

In 2022, the United States witnessed a staggering 38% of its 235 million tons of food supply go unsold or uneaten.

This phenomenon, referred to as surplus food, translates to nearly 145 billion meals wasted annually, equating to roughly 1.8% of the U.S. GDP. The environmental and economic implications of such waste are profound, prompting urgent calls for action from various global entities, including the United Nations, the U.S. Government, and the European Parliament. Leading the charge in addressing this inefficiency is ReFED, an organisation dedicated to reducing food waste and driving sustainability in the food system.

Image rights: ReFED
Image rights: ReFED

ReFED's efforts align closely with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a blueprint for a more sustainable and equitable future. Specifically, ReFED's initiatives resonate with several key goals:

1. SDG 2: Zero hunger

By tackling food waste, ReFED aims to redirect surplus food to those in need, addressing hunger and food insecurity. Redistributing even a fraction of the wasted 78 million tons of food could significantly impact hunger reduction efforts in the U.S. and globally.

2. SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

ReFED's mission to cut food waste in half by 2025 or 2030 promotes sustainable consumption and production patterns. This goal encourages efficiency and waste minimisation across the food supply chain, fostering a more responsible approach to resource management.

3. SDG 13: Climate action

The environmental cost of food waste is immense, as it involves the needless expenditure of resources to grow, harvest, transport, and prepare food that ultimately gets discarded. By reducing food waste, ReFED contributes to climate action by lowering greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production and disposal.

4. SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals

ReFED collaborates with a diverse array of stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and non-profit organisations, to drive collective action against food waste. This multi-sectoral approach exemplifies the partnerships necessary to achieve the ambitious targets set by the SDGs.

The broader implications of food waste extend beyond these goals, impacting areas such as economic growth, innovation, and infrastructure. For instance, reducing food waste can stimulate economic growth (SDG 8) by creating new market opportunities and reducing costs associated with waste disposal. Moreover, innovative solutions to food waste, such as advanced recycling technologies and efficient supply chain management, contribute to industry innovation and infrastructure development (SDG 9).

ReFED's comprehensive approach involves data-driven strategies to identify and implement effective food waste reduction solutions. Their initiatives include improving food date labelling practices, enhancing food donation infrastructure, and promoting consumer education on food waste. By leveraging technology and data, ReFED aims to optimise the food system and create a sustainable model that can be replicated globally.

Addressing food waste also intersects with efforts to achieve SDG 3 (good health and well-being), as reducing waste can improve access to nutritious food, thereby enhancing public health outcomes. Additionally, it supports SDG 15 (Life on Land) by reducing the strain on agricultural resources and preserving biodiversity.

ReFED's mission to reduce food waste is intrinsically linked to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. By addressing the inefficiencies in the food system, ReFED not only mitigates environmental impacts but also fosters economic growth, innovation, and social well-being. As global attention on food waste intensifies, ReFED's role becomes increasingly critical in steering the world towards a more sustainable and equitable future. Through collaborative efforts and data-driven solutions, the vision of halving food waste by 2025 or 2030 is within reach, promising significant benefits for people and the planet alike.

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