New tools take aim at food waste (and policymakers, there's one for you)

Tue, 2017-05-30 10:33 -- Compassionate C...

If 43 states removed burdensome date labeling restrictions, it could save consumers and businesses more than $29 billion per year. That's one example of what policymakers and food waste reduction advocates can glean from Policy Finder, one of two new tools recently unveiled by ReFED, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit supported by leading business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing U.S. food waste. As you can tell from the descriptions below, these are useful and timely tools. – Liz Enbysk


“ReFED’s 2016 Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste identified concrete opportunities to save money and resources, feed people and create jobs,” said Chris Cochran, the organization's executive director. “The Innovator Database and Policy Finder build on the Roadmap by creating a one-stop shop for stakeholders interested in understanding food waste policy and innovation – two levers that have the power to make change across sectors. These tools reveal that food waste reduction is both a source of viable, scalable business enterprise and a potentially significant job generator.”

The Food Waste Policy Finder features an interactive map allowing users to navigate the landscape of federal and state laws and policies. Developed in partnership with Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Policy Finder will help food businesses and food recovery organizations better navigate laws on liability protection, date labeling, tax incentives, animal feed and waste bans. The tool also highlights inconsistencies in existing legal frameworks and the opportunities for state and federal action.

“To reach the national 50% food waste reduction target, we need supportive policies at all levels of government. This year, more than a dozen states are considering new food waste legislation,” said Emily Broad Leib, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of the Food Law and Policy Clinic. “We hope this tool will help businesses and food recovery organizations better understand the applicable laws so that they can make better food recovery decisions, while also helping policymakers implement better laws and even experiment with new policies to reduce the waste of healthy, wholesome food.”

What can policymakers do? Here's one example: Of the 10 states that generate the most food waste, ReFED reports, California is the only one to offer state-level tax incentives to promote food donation, and is the only one of the top 10 food waste-generating states to accelerate the adoption of food waste solutions by establishing an organics waste recycling law.

What food waste innovation looks like
ReFED’s Food Waste Innovator Database -- a living compilation of 400+ commercial and nonprofit entities focused on reducing and preventing food waste – enables users to explore the dynamic and expanding food waste innovation sector, with solutions broken down by type and geography. The database will also help connect innovators to the private sector, government, foundations and investors to collaborate, fundraise and accelerate impact.

The fastest-growing solution areas, according to ReFED, include donations, new products and secondary marketplaces for food that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. Most innovators in ReFED’s database are for-profit (70%) with services offered nationally (55%), representing an emerging opportunity. ReFED will use existing insights and new data gleaned from the database to identify trends, growth areas and gaps in food waste innovation, ultimately helping drive development of more efficient, scalable solutions.

“Meeting our national food waste reduction goal depends on the entrepreneurial spirit of innovators, action across the food system, and the strong commitment of funders like The Rockefeller Foundation and Walmart Foundation, and many others. We hope these tools will convene stakeholders who haven’t – or otherwise wouldn’t – collaborate on food system challenges, and guide them to use insights, backed by robust economics and data analysis, to identify proven solutions to immediately cut food waste,” Cochran said.

More on food waste innovation:
New Feeding America tech platform aims to reduce food waste and hunger
What if reducing food waste could save your city money?
Novel approaches take on food waste (and hunger and GHGs too)

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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