Investing in food waste pays off

Every euro invested in combating food waste yields 14 euros for companies. This was the result of a study conducted by the World Resources Institute (WRI) on behalf of Champions 12.3 and published on 7 March 2017.

The study, conducted among 700 companies in 17 countries, shows that it is financially worthwhile to invest in combating food waste. Champions 12.3 commissioned the study because it is dedicated to halve global food waste per capita by 2030. Champions 12.3 is a coalition of nearly 40 leaders across government, business and civil society. The Dutch Champions include Louise Fresco, Paul Polman, Feike Sijbesma and Wiebe Draijer.

Wiebe Draijer, CEO of Rabobank, emphasizes the shared importance for companies and the environment. “One of Rabobank’s priorities is reducing food waste, because it enables our customers to improve their returns while a more efficient use of raw materials has a positive impact on the environment and the stability of the food supply. Furthermore, food waste is responsible for an estimated 8 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions, tackling this challenge can help lower emissions and meet commitments to the Paris Agreement.” The Champions 12.3 study provides, among other things, insight into investments that have a positive effect on reducing food waste. These include:

  • quantifying and monitoring food loss and waste;
  • training staff on practices to reduce waste;
  • changing food transportation, storage and handling processes;
  • innovating packaging to extend shelf-life, changing date labels.

The benefits are, in addition to the social benefits, also the financial gains from reducing food loss and waste. These include:

  • optimizing food or raw material purchases (since more of what is purchased is consumed or used in a sellable product);
  • lowering waste collection and management costs;
  • reducing disposal fees (e.g., “tipping” fees);
  • adding revenue from higher value food sales.

Bas Rüter, Sustainability Director at Rabobank, comments: “we embrace the recommendation from the study to set concrete goals and substantiate our approach. Transparency on where food waste occurs is needed in order for interventions to be effective. We integrate the battle against food waste into our business operations and especially in our financing policy. In the Netherlands, for example, we finance companies like the Verspillingsfabriek with an Impact Loan. This enables us to stimulate a commercial approach to food waste. And by linking our customers a chances of succesfull business is offered. We are also active in various networks where we encourage knowledge accumulation. An example of this is our partnership WUR and other partners within the Source Shakers (a food waste solutions platform). We also organise various meetings for our customers every year. In 2017, the focus is on innovative packages that give food a longer shelf life.”