It’s Food Waste Prevention Week and here at SWEEP we wanted to get into the spirit by sharing (1) how recovering edible food helps to mitigate climate change and (2) how SWEEP+ certification helps municipalities create successful wasted food diversion programs.
Edible food recovery is important to climate change for several reasons:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions: When food waste is sent to landfills, it decomposes and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its heat-trapping ability. By recovering edible food, we can prevent it from ending up in landfills and reduce the amount of methane emissions.
- Saving resources: When food is wasted, all the resources that went into producing it, such as water, energy, and land, are also wasted. By recovering edible food, we can save these resources and reduce the environmental impact of food production.
- Addressing food insecurity: Food recovery can also help to address food insecurity by redistributing edible food to people in need. By reducing food waste and increasing food access, we can create a more sustainable and equitable food system.
- Mitigating climate change impacts: The food system is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for around 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing food waste through edible food recovery, we can help to mitigate the impacts of climate change on food production and food security.
Overall, edible food recovery is an important strategy for reducing the environmental impact of food production and consumption, while also addressing food insecurity and contributing to a more sustainable and resilient food system.
As to question 2, to achieve SWEEP+ certification, local communities must implement policies and programs to achieve credits that fulfill SMM policy, and waste generation prevention categories criteria. Edible food recovery is an excellent way for a local community and its service provider to achieve meaningful credits.
First, edible food recovery must become part of standard operating procedure for generators. However, to do so, local communities must identify edible recovery as a communitywide objective that all should and must follow. This can be done through edible food recovery policies and ordinances, encouraging through zoning urban food forestry, and allowing for food cultivation in community gardens.
Second, to augment policymaking, local communities need to create conditions and circumstances that incentivize generators to take the extra step of saving food. This food can then be matched with community-based programs through software and infrastructural enhancements to connect food to hungry mouths. For instance, communities can match donors with food distribution agencies (end users) through exchanges, provide needed refrigeration equipment to donors/end users, and provide technical assistance to both. And these fixes can be easy and economical.
Check out more information about SWEEP+ certification at https://sweepstandard.org/
-written by Jon Michael Huls, SWEEP Steering Committee and SWEEP Board Member