Recognizing the scale of the problem, the United Nations has included a target of reducing food loss and waste in its set of Sustainable Development Goals, approved five years ago this week. This goal, SDG 12.3, calls on the world to halve per capita food waste by 2030. With that goal set, a group of leaders asked how we could help motivate action to get there and Champions 12.3 has been formed – a coalition of over 30 senior leaders from governments, businesses, international organizations, research institutes and civil society, dedicated to accelerating progress towards SDG 12.3
We are only 10 years from the deadline of 2030. To face it, we must do more and more urgently than ever. This is why Champions 12.3 calls on all countries and companies involved in the food supply chain to commit to SDG 12.3. Quantify and publicly report their food loss and waste. And, on this basis, to act. We call it the target, measure, act approach and urge more governments and businesses to adopt it as their own.
Significant progress is being made. The UK has reduced food waste by 27% since 2007 and other countries around the world are reporting progress. Businesses are also doing their part. This week, Champions 12.3 will announce that more companies than ever have set targets to reduce food waste in their operations, including 10 global companies – including six of the world’s largest food retailers – who have hired more than 200 their suppliers to cut food. waste through supply chains.
The next step will be to encourage more companies not only to set goals, but to report publicly on their progress. Tesco was the first UK retailer to release food waste data in 2013 because we know what gets measured gets done. Since then, we have started publishing food waste data for each of the markets we operate in, reduced 45,000 tonnes of food waste from our global operations and more than half reduced food waste in Central Europe.
Equally important, our suppliers help us reduce waste from farm to fork. Seventy-one of our brand and private-label suppliers, including 11 of the world’s largest brands, publish food waste data alongside us. This includes 15 global suppliers who are reporting for their packing plants for the first time this year and have pledged to expand their reporting to their farms next year. Collectively, they have eliminated over 155,000 tonnes of waste from their operations in three years.
As I complete my term as President of Champions 12.3, it is clear that there is still a long way to go, but I believe we can meet the challenge together and halve global food waste by 2030. Covid-19 brought this problem to light focus in all countries of the world. Governments are thinking about how to make supply chains more resilient and consumers are rethinking the value of food.
We have a unique opportunity to tackle food waste and, in so doing, help turn the tide of the global climate emergency. Businesses and countries are talking about building back better. Now is the time to put this into action. By committing to halve global food waste by 2030 and publishing data on food waste. By integrating food loss and waste into climate strategies, including NDCs. And by investing in the reduction of food loss and waste as part of Covid-19 responses.
At Tesco, we will not rest until no good food is wasted. As a global community, we cannot rest until all food companies and governments take action.
Dave Lewis is the CEO of Tesco and the President of Champions 12.3