– Published on
June 28, 2023

We went to ReFED Food Waste Summit 2023...

...and here are some of the things we've learned!

Food waste is a major problem – I think we all know that. It’s an issue worldwide. Every year around 1/3 of all produced food goes to waste and in developed countries like e.g. the US, nearly 40 % of all food goes to waste. A paradox, since more than 10 % of all US citizens suffer from hunger. So WHY do we WASTE?

Well, it's a combination of a lot of things. Consumer behavior, financial revenue, convenience, legislation and more to it. We cannot solve the issues alone. We know. To be honest, not even our whole portfolio (which is quite comprehensive) on reducing food waste in retailers would be able to stand alone. We are working on it but there are some things that affect food waste, which we cannot do anything about.

The state policy toolkit

The world is different but the reasons for food waste to happen are not so different. In May 2023 we visited St. Louis at the ReFed food waste summit fair, to learn more about the US market, the causes but definitiely also the solutions. On day two a state policy toolkit on reducing food waste was published. Interesting and inspirational material!

At Whywaste, we believe that no single solution can stand alone to reduce food waste.

We see a few very important things to highlight and discuss from our learnings on participating in the fair, the content in the toolkit and our general thoughts on working with food waste. But first, let us give you some insights on the toolkit.

The toolkit is made by ReFED, WWF, NRDC, Harvard Law and a lot of companies all over the world, where the effect of different initiatives have been mentioned. States like California, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts have been frontrunners for initiatives that reduce food waste. Since the next stop for us will be California, we have looked a bit more into California legislation to understand the policies within the state.

In California, the state has set a goal on reaching a 75 % source reduction, recycling and composting food waste which is equal to taking a million cars off the road each year! They have tax incentives for donations, initiatives for poorly labeled food. In some situations, business is getting fines for wasting food which finances waste programs and waste reduction initiatives. These are not our words, but taken from the toolkit: “The California and New York models and regulations can serve as a foundation for other states and may help reduce the associated regulatory start-up costs, though there will still be significant implementation and enforcement activity required”, but we can agree, that they defiantly are a frontrunner when it comes to making an effort in reducing food waste!

One thing that is broadly used in US but less used in European countries, are donations which from our opinion is due to several reasons:

  • Food insecurity is a major thing in the US which makes a bigger incentive for donating
  • Donations are free and there are not many regulations when donation compared to some European countries
  • Many companies get tax benefits from donating, which makes donations one of the most logical choices when wanting to reduce food waste

Which underlines HOW IMPORTANT legislation is and how big of an effect it can have.

If you could choose one solution to reduce food waste, what would you choose? Hard, right? We would say impossible, but if we had to choose one solution for retailers, we would say Whywaste. If you want to learn more about the state policy toolkit, you can find it here. Reach out to us if you want to hear more about our solutions, or if you would like to grab a coffee with us on our next stay in California. Stay great!

Sofie Skovrup
Implementation and Development specialist & Food waste expert

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