By Mike Pomranz
Updated June 07, 2016
Credit: © Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Over the past few years, the idea of reducing food waste – and, in turn, helping to stop its negative environmental side effects and to reduce world hunger – has emerged as one of the preeminent global discussions. But how exactly is this waste defined? Without any global standard, quantifying food loss and waste was proving to be extremely difficult – which is why, in 2013, the Food Loss & Waste Protocol was launched, with the goal of tackling this exact issue.

Yesterday, the World Resources Institute announced the fruits of that labor: a new Food Loss & Waste Standard, described as “the first-ever set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure…food loss and waste.” The standard was part of an international partnership that also included input from the Consumer Goods Forum, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Though for those outside of the industry, the massive 160-page document explaining the new FLW Standard could best be described as overwhelming, the hope is that following these new standards will help both private businesses and government organizations to better measure and manage food waste by providing more information about where supply chains break down and aligning definitions within the discussion. “Now we have a powerful new tool that will help governments and businesses save money, protect resources, and ensure more people get the food they need,” Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, was quoted as saying.

As with any “standard,” it’s only as standard as people’s willingness to accept and utilize it. And right at the top of the cover of the FLW Standard it distinctly states “Version 1.0.” But much like with tackling food waste itself, you have to start somewhere. Thanks to the global partnership that went into establishing these standards, this first step appears to be a big one.