© Michel Gunther / WWF

US Food Loss & Waste Policy Action Plan for Congress & the Administration

Each year, between 30–40% of all food in the United States is unsold or uneaten. Most becomes food waste, heading straight to landfill, incineration, down the drain, or left in the fields — all while millions face hunger and our ecosystems are degraded. Addressing this challenge is essential to building a regenerative and resilient food system that helps to mitigate climate change, reverse nature loss, and feeds more people.

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC), ReFED, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with support from companies, NGOs, and other stakeholders are calling on Congress and the Biden administration to take ambitious action to achieve the goal of cutting US food loss and waste in half by 2030, through five key actions:

  1. Invest in the infrastructure to measure, rescue, recycle, and prevent organic waste from entering landfills and incinerators.
  2. Expand incentives to institutionalize surplus food donation and strengthen regional supply chains.
  3. Assert the US Government’s leadership on FLW globally and domestically.
  4. Educate and activate consumers via private and public food waste behavior change campaigns.
  5. Require a national date labeling standard.

To learn more and read the complete Action Plan, visit FoodWasteActionPlan.org

Statements from founding supporters:

“We know that food loss and waste has major environmental, economic, and social implications. The U.S. Food Loss and Waste Action Plan outlines critical solutions to ensure government spending and incentives are aligned on benefiting these areas, including climate change and food insecurity. There is an urgent need for the federal government to implement structural reforms through law and policy to better enable food waste reduction along all aspects of the food supply chain, and we encourage Congress and the Biden administration to start with the recommendations brought forth by our coalition.” — Emily Broad Leib, Faculty Director of FLPC and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

“Government is the critical linchpin in the fight against food waste. Policy can create an environment that accelerates the adoption of food waste reduction solutions at a large scale. By incentivizing food practices, penalizing bad behavior, or clarifying what activities are allowed, each policy has the power to spark the food system into action.” — Dana Gunders, Executive Director, ReFED

“Food waste is at the intersection of many of our nation’s most pressing problems including climate change, hunger, health, and racial inequity — all of which require bold federal action. Solutions to tackle food loss and waste already exist and have been implemented across the country, but more needs to be done. The federal government is uniquely positioned to advance these efforts and create widespread change that will help reach our climate goals and build a more just and equitable future. We urge Congress and the Biden-Harris administration to address this problem and fix the long-standing social and environmental issues in our food system.” — Yvette Cabrera, Food Waste Director at NRDC

Many organizations have made significant progress on the issue of food loss and waste, but we can move faster with the full backing of the US government. We need investment in the infrastructure necessary for diversion — to keep good food from going to landfill — which will yield immediate environmental and social benefits. But we must also focus on preventing waste in the first place, meaning investments that fully commit to measuring the problem at scale. The US can and should show leadership here, implementing game-changing solutions for the rest of the world to emulate.” Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Food Loss and Waste, WWF

Statement from Congresswoman Chellie Pingree:

“Food waste is a dual burden to both our economy and our environment. As a member of Congress, I’ve searched for ways to utilize public policy to stop food loss and divert perfectly good food from landfills. I’m deeply appreciative of the partnership with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, ReFED, WWF, and NRDC as they help lead the charge to cut U.S. food loss and waste in half by 2030.” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)

Additional statements of support:

“At Hellmann’s and Unilever, we believe that food is too good to be wasted. With our products reaching the homes of millions of people across America, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to raise awareness about the issue of food waste and help people become more resourceful with their food.
We know that tackling food waste is an enormous opportunity to address food insecurity and mitigate climate change. It’s a challenge that must be met by focusing on the complex systems by which food is produced, consumed, and disposed of. This cannot be done by one single entity and we are keen to collaborate with our industry, government and other stakeholders to optimize the entire value chain.” — Priyanka Malhotra, Senior Manager, Hellmann’s Best Foods | Unilever

“As a global company with over 7500 hotels in 133 countries, Marriott International feels strongly about using our size and scale to make a meaningful impact on reducing food loss and waste through our operations. We have set a goal to half our food waste, however need the support and drive of a national network working towards the same goal. From infrastructure to education, if we work together, we can and will make an impact in this social and environmental challenge that is solvable.” — Denise Naguib, Vice President, Sustainability and Supplier Diversity, Marriott International

“Baltimore has been very committed to food waste reduction and would greatly benefit from action on the federal level as proposed by this action plan. Many Baltimoreans are food insecure, and at the same time, a large amount of residential waste is food waste. Action is needed to bridge this divide and achieve Baltimore’s goals for food waste reduction, rescue, and recycling.” — Matthew Garbark, Acting Director, Baltimore City Department of Public Works

“Eliminating food loss and waste requires effort at federal and state levels. The US Food Loss and Waste Policy Action Plan will make a real difference in the work of local organizations like ours that are on the front lines of education, logistics and infrastructure development.” Danielle Todd, Executive Director, Make Food Not Waste

“Addressing food waste should be a national priority. These measures will set us in the right direction.” — Stephanie Miller, Founder, Zero Waste in DC

“The US Food Loss & Waste Policy Action Plan is an excellent roadmap to promote solutions to address this crisis impacting our food system and environment. It would be devastating to know that we could do something to avert disaster and not act. Food Rescue US is fully committed to being part of the solution by continuing to divert food waste from landfills and delivering it to the food insecure.” Carol Shattuck, CEO, Food Rescue US

Visit FoodWasteActionPlan.org to learn more about the recommendations.

Interested in signing on? Get in touch at admin@foodwasteactionplan.org.

Better business for a better Earth. A publication from World Wildlife Fund.

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