As I’ve witnessed firsthand this year, many around the world are taking action to reduce food waste and in turn, its impact on hunger and climate change.
With reduction goals set by the United States and the United Nations, I believe that food waste is quickly finding a seat at the table on discussions about climate change mitigation strategies. The time to act is now – and we at United Technologies are proud to do our part to waste less, and feed more.
Recently, our Carrier business convened the 2nd World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste in Singapore. Launched last year in London, the goal of the World Cold Chain Summit is to convene global leaders in the supply chain private sector, academia, and government to discuss and develop scalable, sustainable solutions to develop and improve the cold chain to reduce food loss and waste. The cold chain is the seamless and interconnected network that moves, preserves and protects our food, including marine container refrigeration, truck/trailer refrigeration, supermarket refrigeration, cold storage rooms and home refrigerators.
We know there are many reasons why food is lost or wasted – but among them is the lack of or the underdevelopment of the cold chain. Only 10 percent of perishable foods are refrigerated worldwide, even though refrigeration is the best technology to ensure food safety and prolonging its shelf life. That’s why this Summit is so important, as it helps connect a global dialogue on how we can sustainably grow the cold chain – which in turn, can reduce food waste.
I heard many great ideas for how we can strengthen our global food supply chains around the world. Here are my top 6 takeaways from the event:
1. The new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include halving food waste by 2030. Big goals lead to big results, and I’m confident this goal can be met. I’m pleased that the Summit endorsed the goal.
2. The UN Food & Agriculture Organization is considering a new Cold Chain Coalition to fight food waste in developing countries. We commend the FAO for their forward-thinking initiative and look forward to supporting the effort.
3. The International Institute of Refrigeration – a multinational body – estimates 23 percent of food loss and waste in developing countries is due to the lack of a cold chain. The divide is startling, with Ethiopia having just 2 liters/per person of refrigeration compared to 344 in the U.S.
4. A new independent study shows that greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste could see a 10-fold net reduction if developing countries have the same level of cold chain as the developed world. This is powerful evidence that a green cold chain can be effective not only in feeding more people, but taking a bite out of the astounding 3.6 gigatons of CO2 associated with food waste every year. If it was a country, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The study confirms that clear improvements are achievable.
5. In developed countries, 42 percent of food waste happens at the household level, confirming the need for greater consumer awareness. The UK awareness campaign, “Love Food Hate Waste” is credited with a 21 percent reduction in household food waste since 2010, proving it can be done.
6. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building standard could be an effective model for consideration for a green cold chain standard.
Through the World Cold Chain Summit and other initiatives like it, we’re proud to help lead the conversation on ways we can make the world better. One way to do so is to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, healthy foods – and a sustainable cold chain can make that a reality.
Let me know your ideas on ways we can waste less, feed more in the comments below or @JohnMandyck!