In the past months, a great deal has been written about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs present an ambitious agenda for sustainability and targets to be achieved by 2030. However, many companies feel there has been a lack of guidance on how to achieve these goals. If you are an actor in the food industry or a retailer and you have been wondering how your company can contribute, the brand new Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard may prove to be an invaluable tool.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a staggering one third of all food is lost or wasted as it moves from production to consumption. This level of inefficiency not only causes approximately 940 billion USD in economic losses per year, but also puts an immense and unnecessary strain on the planet. As you can see in the slider below, the amount of wasted and lost food contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions as well as water use.
Food Waste, Sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
SDG target 12.3 challenges us to reduce global food waste by 50 % by 2030, both at the retailer and consumer level as well as along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses. The SDGs also set targets for sustainable agriculture, to increase productivity, to increase water efficiency, to use land more efficiently and to combat climate change.
Companies that manage to reduce food waste and loss thus contribute to achieving a multitude of SDG targets at once. In fact, for many companies it might well be one of the areas where the most immediate effects can be achieved.
What the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW) can do for you
The key to reducing food loss and waste is understanding where, when and how it happens. This is where the FLW standard comes in: it is primarily a tool to quantify food loss and waste. The standard provides guidance on what to measure and how to measure it, as well as a consistent framework to report data.
The standard itself does not recommend or prescribe any measures to reduce food waste, but can be used to establish a baseline, to identify critical areas, to derive measures and to track improvements. The standard and supporting documentation can be downloaded free of charge from the FLW website.
Reporting on Food Loss and Waste
Although food loss and waste is a material aspect for many companies, sustainability reports often lack reliable and transparent data on this issue – mainly because there has been no consistent method to measure and report food waste.
The FLW Standard is designed to help companies report publicly about food waste in their operations and supply chains. Companies can either integrate the data in their annual sustainability report or use the FLW reporting template specifically designed for this purpose.
Third-party Assurance by DQS
In order to increase the credibility and reliability of the reported data, the FLW Standard provides the option for reporting companies to seek third-party assurance. Third-party assurance by a registered Assurance Provider such as DQS creates the following benefits:
- It increases confidence in the reported information
- It improves internal accounting and reporting practices
- It ensures that the collected data is an accurate baseline for executive decision-making
DQS is an AA1000 licensed assurance provider and can provide external assurance on food loss and waste data, either as a standalone assessment or as part of the assurance on your sustainability report (Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), German Sustainability Code, etc.).