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Measure Food Loss & Waste

What's measured is managed. A new Food Loss & Waste (FLW) measurement protocol will allow governments and companies to report on FLW.

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal
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A common saying I heard while interning at World Resources Institute (WRI) was "what's measured gets managed." The idea behind this saying is simple. When people measure (like food loss and waste), people take actions to improve the data points coming out of the measurement. Without measurements  - and protocols for making the measurements - we do not have reliable information about where and when something happens. As a result, we cannot optimize our interventions or prove that our interventions have a positive impact. 

To illustrate, WRI developed the greenhouse gas emissions measurement protocol. This standard measurement methodology allows companies to understand where and when they produce carbon emissions. I think 90-95% of companies that report on greenhouse gas emissions use the WRI standard for measuring those emissions. They can then use the data to inform decisions about what actions, in what places, and at what times, will most reduce their emissions.  They can also prove that they have reduced emissions, and use measurements to test, refine, and improve interventions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

WRI is hoping to replicate the success of the greenhouse gas measurement protocol with their Food Loss & Waste measurement protocol. It's exciting stuff. 

See the link for more information: http://www.wri.org/news/2016/06/release-first-ever-global-standard-measure-food-loss-and-waste-introduced-international 


Questions

What are some challenges to the adoption of standard protocols? How can we mitigate them?

How can we empower farmers, consumers, and retailers to measure their Food Loss & Waste while thinking about how to reduce it? 

Tell us about your work experience:

I help continuously improve a fortune 500 company's governance processes. I also build and develop reports/charts/dashboards to communicate information to our senior leaders.

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Photo of Jacob Schual-Berke

Hi Aaryaman, great contribution! I remember in college we did a waste audit at the dining halls, and showing students how much food they were wasting was a very powerful tool. I think the idea of a standard is great, but like you I wonder how it could apply to consumers, who probably aren't willing to go through all this dense documentation and procedure. Maybe a detailed study could be done on (let's say American) households to get some averages, and then with a simple tool any household could enter a little info to get some rough estimates of their food waste. I think communicating that data persuasively is just as important as generating it; as a person who develops reports/charts/dashboards, what do you think would be some of the most effective ways to do so?

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal

Thank you both! :) 

I think the key is to communicate the information in pictures and charts rather than words. The old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words" is applicable here. 

I think the challenge with communicating the information is to personalize the impact of wasting food. What do you think of using pictures of local water sources, natural landscapes, and farms in some with/without food waste scenarios to make it "real"?

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