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Our Insights 14 Sep 2018

SustainAbility at the Global Climate Action Summit: The Low Hanging Fruit in Combatting Climate Change

By Geena Giovannetti

SustainAbility is at The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and will be sharing blog updates about some of the events throughout the week.

You can read the first blog of this series here.

The Low Hanging Fruit in Combatting Climate Change

Event: More Feast, Less Footprint: New Goals & Progress Towards Wasting Less Food

Approximately one-third of the world’s food goes uneaten. Let that sink in – 33% of all food produced never reaches a table, plate, or consumer. All that uneaten food equates to $1 trillion in economic losses and accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Those staggering numbers are reason enough to make the case for food waste as both an issue and opportunity in the fight against climate change.

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All uneaten food equates to $1 trillion in economic losses and accounts for roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The multi-panel discussion I attended included insights from both local government officials and corporate representatives. The mayors of Milan, Portland, and Oakland all spoke about the critical role that cities play in reducing food waste and how addressing this issue brings along positive co-benefits – saving water, creating economic value, and improving food security. Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland, specifically identified that businesses in his city gained a $14 return on investment for every $1 spent on food waste reduction efforts. On the corporate side, Jo Licata, Community Projects Manager for Hilton San Francisco, spoke about the long effort it took for her to convince senior leadership that there was a business case for implementing a composting system at the hotel. Almost 30 years later, the Hilton San Francisco is sending 2500 pounds of food to compost facilities each day.

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Food waste is an urgent, personal issue because it is the kind of issue that everyone can do something about.

Food waste isn’t something we think about because it is so far removed from our daily lives. We eat what we want and throw away what we don’t like. The problem with this mindset is that it doesn’t consider the value, both economic and environmental, that is lost every time we put food in the trash. However, the speakers on both panels reminded me that food waste is an urgent, personal issue because it is the kind of issue that everyone can do something about. Whether it’s buying smaller plates to reduce portion sizing or being mindful about what we put in the trash bin versus compost, we each have a role to play in the global effort to eliminate food waste.

 

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