Earth Day reminds us why it’s time to get smarter about food waste

Image Credit: NASA

In 1970, the first Earth Day helped launch the modern environmental movement. Started as a grassroots effort, Earth Day generated public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and contributed to the passage of some of the hallmark environmental laws — including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and several others. Since then, it has grown into an annual event to celebrate our planet’s environment and build awareness of its greatest challenges. The day, marked on April 22, is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects.

Here at Nourished Planet, every day is Earth Day, as we constantly strive to drive change wherever food and beverage waste occurs. This Earth Day will be particularly important for our planet, given the current uncertainty of environmental action in the United States. That’s why we will see a slew of marches across the country and in our nation’s capital, including the March for Science, where scientists, businesses, and the general public will come together to reaffirm support for the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies and governments.

Earth Day is a reminder that there is no Planet B, and we must nourish the planet we have so that we all can prosper in perpetuity. As such, it’s more important than ever for businesses to come together to lend their collective voices to drive home the point that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can and must go hand-in-hand.

The business case for fighting food waste

In the United States, people throw out 25 percent of the food and beverages they purchase, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. This translates to a staggering $1,350 to $2,275 in annual losses. And nearly 40 percent of the food we grow goes to waste, which costs businesses as much as $161 billion annually. Manufacturers are major generators of this food waste, creating more than 7 billion pounds each year.

We at Nourished Planet are committed to creating the highest possible economic and social value from food and beverage waste, and it is our mission to provide products that help solve the waste problem while providing myriad benefits to our customers.

The business case for investing in food waste reduction techniques recently became even more robust thanks to a new study from the World Resource Institute, which found that investing just a single dollar in food waste reduction can yield $14 dollars in return. Restaurants typically experience the highest returns, with hotels, food service companies and food retail­ers tending to have ratios between 5:1 and 10:1.

Changing how we think about food waste

Despite these clear businesses benefits, many companies have yet to see the light. Often, this is because the associated costs of food loss and waste in some cases are too often buried in operational budgets and are accepted as a “cost of doing business.” In other cases, decision-makers may believe that the costs of taking action — such as identifying food loss and waste hotspots, purchasing new equipment or implementing process or behavioral changes — outweigh the benefits.

But companies increasingly are recognizing the importance of investing in food waste reduction strategies. They recognize that setting targets raises ambition, which motivates action; that what gets measured gets managed; and what ultimately matters is action.

On this Earth Day, we challenge everyone — businesses and consumers alike — to think about how they might implement food waste reduction strategies in their everyday operations and lives. It will help nourish the planet just as it helps nourish your wallet.