The food waste movement has come a long way in recent years, moving definitively into the mainstream of sustainability conversations. Television hosts and celebrity chefs are talking about it, and businesses and governments are setting goals to reduce it. The EPA’s food recovery hierarchy is the long-time accepted standard for best practices in food waste reduction, with prevention firmly established at the top as the optimal solution. And though there are various techniques for prevention, daily measurement of waste is emerging as a standard of excellence for foodservice operations that want to prevent the maximum amount of food waste.
One of our core beliefs at LeanPath is that we manage what we measure. It’s at the heart of our mission of making food waste prevention easy: measurement leads to understanding which leads to prevention. When LeanPath was founded in 2004, the concept of measuring food waste was largely a foreign one in many kitchens—that’s why we’re especially excited that last month, the Food Loss & Waste Protocol launched the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting (FLW) Standard, a first-of-its-kind framework designed to help organizations, nations, regions and other entities around the world report on food loss and waste.
One of the drivers of food waste that we often highlight in LeanPath educational sessions is confusion around date labels. This can sometimes be the case in foodservice—where employees may be required to throw out products in bulk once they have reached a certain date—and often at home, where many consumers don't think twice about pouring a gallon of still-good milk down the drain if they see a date on it that has passed.
Just last month the Norwegian University of Science and Technology released a study that compared the impact of collecting food waste to convert it to biogas (recycling) versus cutting food waste (prevention). A growing number of waste management plants in both the United States and Europe are processing food waste into biogas, which significantly reduces CO2 emissions when it replaces fossil fuels. But is this process a good long-term solution for the environment?