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Monday, June 6, 2016, 13:07

Global standard to measure food waste

By Reuters

Global standard to measure food waste
A photograph taken on Nov 5, 2015 shows food waste in a plastic container before been crushed and transformed in a c ooperative recycling site in Belesta-en-Lauragais, France . (AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS)

BARCELONA - A new global standard for measuring food loss and waste will help countries and companies step up efforts to store, transport and consume food more efficiently, its backers said on Monday.

Around one third of all food, by weight, is spoiled or thrown away worldwide as it moves from where it is produced to where it is eaten, costing globally up to US$940 billion per year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated.

The standard is the first set of international definitions and reporting requirements for businesses, governments and other organisations to measure and manage food loss and waste, withthe aim of reducing it, its creators said.

The effort hopes to channel more food to the roughly 800million people who are undernourished around the world, and cutemissions from the production of uneaten food, which account forabout 8 percent of the total contributing to climate change.

"There's simply no reason that so much food should be lostand wasted," said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, which has led work on the standard.

"Now we have a powerful new tool that will help governmentsand businesses save money, protect resources, and ensure morepeople get the food they need," he added in a statement.

Often companies, countries or cities lack information abouthow much, why and where food is removed from the supply chain.

Definitions of food loss and waste also vary widely, making comparisons hard, according to a document on the new standard.

"It is challenging to manage what you do not measure," it noted.

Other organisations that developed the "Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard" include the Consumer Goods Forum, the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

In low-income countries, food "loss" is the bigger problem, meaning food spoiled early in the value chain during harvest or in storage, transport and processing. But in richer nations,food "waste" thrown away by shops and consumers is worse.

The backers of the standard, launched at the Global GreenGrowth Forum in Copenhagen, hope governments will adopt it tomeasure progress under the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Those call for food waste to be cut in half by 2030, and forfood losses to be reduced by that date.

The Consumer Goods Forum, which represents more than 400 of the world's largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries, has adopted a resolution urging its members to reduce food waste from their operations by 50 percent by 2025, with baselines and progress to be measured using the new standard.

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