Wegmans Food Markets, FreshDirect, Albertsons, the Food Marketing Institute and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy are among the ground-floor backers of the United States' first-ever national food waste reduction goal, which calls for a 50 percent reduction by 2030.
Co-launched by the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency one week before world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to address sustainable development practices – including sustainable production and consumption – the agencies will lead the new partnership with retailers, charitable and faith-based organizations, and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve natural resources.
“The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This announcement demonstrates America’s leadership on a global level in getting wholesome food to people who need it, efficient use of natural resources, cutting environmental pollution and promoting innovative approaches for reducing food loss and waste.”
“Let’s feed people, not landfills," added EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "By reducing wasted food in landfills, we cut harmful methane emissions that fuel climate change, conserve our natural resources, and protect our planet for future generations. [This] announcement presents a major environmental, social and public health opportunity for the U.S., and we’re proud to be part of a national effort to reduce the food that goes into landfills.”
A wide array of voices from across the food chain applauded the first national standards for food waste reduction plan. Here's what some of them had to say:
Jonathan Mayes, SVP, Albertsons
"Reducing food waste is an important priority for Albertsons Companies. As part of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, we are focused on source reduction as well as providing food to other good causes such as hunger relief organizations and animal feed."
Leslie Sarasin, President/CEO, Food Marketing Institute
"Food retailers are community minded, neighborhood focused and intimately connected to the lives of their shoppers; as such they work closely with their customers on those issues touching both the heart strings and the purse strings. Reducing food waste at all levels in the food chain - farm, factory, store and home - is certainly one of those issues with economic and emotional appeal."
Pamela G. Bailey, President/CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association
“We applaud these new nationwide goals for reducing food waste in the U.S. Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste, and the food industry has already stepped forward. Last year, GMA member companies recycled 93 percent of the food waste generated from manufacturing and donated 106 million pounds of food to food banks. We look forward to continuing our work on this important issue through the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, which was formed in 2011 by GMA, retailers and restaurant and foodservice companies. This cross-industry alliance works to identify sources of food waste, increase the amount of food sent to food banks and decrease food sent to landfills.”
Jason Wadsworth, Sustainability Manager, Wegmans Food Markets
"Food waste is a critical issue facing food retailers. Recognizing food recovery as an important approach to addressing hunger, protecting our natural resources, and minimizing costs, we applaud the establishment of a national goal for food waste reduction. Wegmans is proud to stand with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency on this important initiative."
Deborah Hecker VP, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sodexo North America
"Most people don't realize how much food they waste every day. As the 18th largest employer in the world, Sodexo is committed to identifying sustainable holistic solutions that reduce or repurpose food that would otherwise be wasted. We are proud of our longstanding relationships with the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture and look forward to working with them on a greater scale to address this issue with the release of the food waste reduction goals."
Jason Ackerman, Co-Founder and CEO, FreshDirect
"FreshDirect is pleased to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency and on this initiative. Reducing food waste is a significant issue facing food retailers. Our work with community partners like City Harvest to reduce food loss can be a model for others, but clearly more can be done. FreshDirect is proud to stand with President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on this important initiative."
Erin Fitzgerald Sexson, SVP, Global Sustainability for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy
"Under the leadership of the nation's dairy farmers, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is working to promote a more sustainable food system. Recognizing that food recovery is an important approach for addressing hunger, safeguarding the environment and reducing costs, we applaud the establishment of a national goal for food waste reduction. Likewise, dairy farms and businesses are making public commitments to measure, reduce recover and recycle food waste, including participation in the Environmental Protection Agency Food Recovery Challenge and the U.S. Food Waste Challenge."
USDA and EPA will also continue to encourage the private sector – foodservice companies, institutions, restaurants, grocery stores, and more – to set their own aggressive goals for reducing food loss and waste in the months ahead.