LOS ANGELES, CA Sept. 14, 2020 — The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) announces plans to lead a US-based public-private partnership - one of the largest in the world - to address wasted food. Together with ReFED, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and WRAP, the PCC is calling on food retailers and their supply chain partners and food manufacturers to join the West Coast Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Wasted Food. The PCC’s goal is to reduce and prevent wasted food in the region by 50% by 2030, which will have benefits including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water and land resources, and supporting those facing food insecurity – which has become increasingly critical in the wake of COVID-19, as the amount of food at risk of being wasted has risen and more Americans are seeking food assistance.
Currently in the United States, about 40% of perfectly good food is wasted each year – roughly 400 pounds for every American. When less food is wasted, the resources used to grow the food, including more than one trillion gallons of water, are not wasted. Reducing food waste also has the potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18 million tons (CO2MTE). And it has economic benefits, as currently the country spends $218B a year growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that goes to waste.
Importantly, opportunities for food waste reduction include “food recovery,” where perfectly good food is rescued before it goes to waste and is delivered to relief organizations that then distribute it to those struggling with food insecurity. Currently, one in seven Americans is food insecure – a number which is expected to grow, as food banks and food pantries struggle to keep up with increased demand due to the economic downturn from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pacific Coast of North America represents the world’s fifth-largest economy, a thriving region of 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. The Pacific Coast Collaborative was formed in 2008 to facilitate collaboration on issues that cross state borders and jurisdictional boundaries. With management support from Cascadia Policy Solutions, an environmental and public policy consulting firm, Washington, Oregon, California, and the cities of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Vancouver, BC are working together to build the low carbon economy of the future. The West Coast Voluntary Agreement to Reduce Wasted Food will serve as a model for other regions around the country to do their part to reduce food waste.
“We are excited to have this unique opportunity to partner with the Pacific Coast Collaborative on this work, especially at a time when so many families are struggling with pandemic-related challenges few people could have anticipated,” said Washington State Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson. “Reducing our food waste by 50% by 2030 can increase the availability of healthy food, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help families save money. That is a triple win for current and future generations.”
“When people are going hungry at the same time that our food system is a major contributor to climate change, everyone can get behind keeping food on tables and out of landfills,” said Richard Whitman, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director. “PCC’s work to reduce food waste is directly aligned with Oregon DEQ’s mission of protecting public health and the environment and with Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s calls to fight climate change by reducing methane emissions from landfills.”
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately impacting communities that were already disadvantaged to begin with, and we know that climate change similarly harms the most vulnerable among us,” said San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed. “By reducing food waste, we are targeting one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions and providing food to families that are most in need during these difficult times.”
“Food insecurity is one of the most searing impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, so we have to tap into every resource at our disposal to help us reduce food waste,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “With this public-private partnership in place, Los Angeles and other cities will be able to keep our hardest-hit households healthy and plan for a more sustainable future.”
“Food waste remains an enormous contributor of greenhouse gas emissions for our City and our region. In Seattle we are committed to addressing all sources of carbon emissions – from transportation to building emissions to food waste,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “Seattle Public Utilities is a national leader in disposing of and composting solid waste, but we need to do more to reduce food waste in our homes, restaurants and farms.”
“The City of Portland is proud to be a part of this innovative initiative and we look forward to working with our Pacific Coast Collaborative partners,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We must take bold and immediate actions to address our climate emergency, while solving food access issues for our most vulnerable communities that are undernourished. Eliminating food waste is critical to meeting our climate and equity goals, and is even more urgent now when our communities are experiencing greater food insecurity as a result of the pandemic.”
The first four signatories were announced at ReFED’s 2019 Food Waste Summit: Albertsons Companies West Coast divisions, which include stores such as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Pavilions; The Kroger Co.; PCC Community Markets; and New Seasons Market. Also signing on is Sprouts Farmers Markets. Signatories will share data through ReFED’s sector-specific Food Loss and Waste Calculator tool and may opt in to WRAP and WWF-hosted topical working groups to support on-the-ground implementation of food waste reduction initiatives.
“Reducing food waste at scale requires a systems-level approach,” said Dana Gunders, Executive Director, ReFED. “Through regional collaboration across the West Coast, we have the opportunity to lead the way in diverting the nearly 63 million tons of food wasted every year in the U.S., which will increase food security and combat climate change.”
“This public-private sector collaboration may be the most effective way to combat an issue like food waste,” stated Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Food Loss and Waste, World Wildlife Fund. “It’s critical to have measurement across supply chains and introduce interventions aimed at prevention to maximize positive impacts for the health of both people and planet. This approach has the potential to transcend the Pacific Coast region and set the stage for a global solution to address a major driver of climate change.”
“Tackling food waste plays a huge part in addressing the two biggest challenges of our generation – tackling climate change and sustainably feeding the world’s growing population – so WRAP is delighted to be involved in this ambitious and hugely important initiative, which will bring significant benefits for the environment and the economy,” said Claire Kneller, Head of Food, WRAP. “We look forward to working with our partners in the PCC, both learning and sharing experience from the Courtauld Commitment, our international award-winning voluntary agreement, which, our latest figures have shown, has been instrumental in putting the UK over halfway towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.”
By signing on to the Voluntary Agreement, signatories commit to the following:
- Contributing to a regional commitment to reduce regional food waste by at least 50% by 2030;
- Establishing a baseline year, measuring progress in reducing wasted food over time and submitting an annual Food Waste Report in accordance with a measurement framework defined by signatories;
- Participation in pre-competitive and collaborative working groups to share lessons learned and best practices, and to develop solutions to collective challenges;
- Support efforts to reach commitments (where possible) via facilitated convenings and local engagement, implement meaningful actions that reduce wasted food, and achieve annual reporting goals.
Additionally, some signatories and partners will be working together to address the challenges to food waste reduction highlighted by COVID-19, including overcoming supply chain disruptions and business closures.
“At Albertsons Companies, we are always working to reduce food waste and identify opportunities to get food to people in need in our communities,” said Darcie Renn, Director of Sustainability, Albertsons Companies. “We look forward to collaborating with our fellow Pacific Coast Collaborative signatories, industry groups, and government agencies to develop solutions that will have long-lasting positive impacts for the communities we serve and the planet.”
“Sprouts Farmers Market has a longstanding commitment to fighting hunger in the communities we serve. We actively partner with hundreds of food recovery agencies throughout the country to ensure any unsold food that is still perfectly edible and nutritious finds its way to those who need it the most. We are excited to expand our impact by joining this group of changemakers dedicated to improving the health of our communities and planet,” said Carlos Rojas, Sprouts Vice President of Sustainability.
“PCC Community Markets has a long history working to reduce food waste and is pleased to join the Pacific Coast Collaborative’s effort. Healthy food belongs in kitchens across our communities. We are confident that this effort to reduce food waste will light a path toward a more sustainable food system across the West Coast and our nation,” added Brenna Davis, Vice President of Social & Environmental Responsibility at PCC Community Markets.