WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 – The United Nations in partnership with a government funded agency in the United Kingdom has released a four-part plan to reduce food waste, which it says amounts to almost $50 billion a year just in the U.S. Globally, about a third of the food produced annually, or some 1.3 billion tons, is wasted.

The plan, called Think. Eat. Save. Guidance Version 1.0, was created by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which was set up in the U.K. in 2000.

“Fighting food loss and waste is an area in which partnerships are needed to reach the goal of eradicating hunger…We face a world with high and volatile food prices, urbanization, and climate change where coordination of strategies to reduce food waste can make a real difference," said Helena Semedo, FAO deputy director general for Natural Resources.

In the U.S., an estimated $48.3 billion of food yearly, and almost half of all fruit and vegetables are wasted. According to the FAO, if global food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third-largest CO2 emitter, after the U.S. and China.

Lessoning food waste would decrease greenhouse gas emissions and free land for agricultural production. Food waste is not only an economic but social issue. More than 840 million go hungry daily. The FAO estimates that by 2050 food availability must be increased by 60 percent to meet increasing global population demands.

"Food waste carries direct economic and environmental costs and depletes the natural resource base that underpins food production," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The guidance document is created from waste studies where in the U.K. avoidable household food waste was reduced 21 percent from 2007 to 2012.

The four modules of the guidance document are:

-Mapping and measuring food and drink waste.

-Options for developing national or regional polices and measures for food and drink waste prevention and reduction. 

-Developing and implementing programs to prevent and reduce household food and drink waste.

-Preventing and reducing food waste in the food and drink business supply chain.

“This first-of-its-kind guidance document on food waste prevention provides the technical expertise and impetus needed for a wide range of actors to take advantage of existing wisdom, catalyze action, and get a head start in tackling this critical issue," Steiner said.

Think. Eat. Save. Guidance Version 1.0 will evolve further with the development of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for food waste measurement. UNEP and FAO are recruiting pilot countries and cities with existing frameworks for food waste prevention tests. The guidance document will be updated in the future as improved waste practices are implemented.


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