Jun 05, 2013 • By

General Mills joins U.S. Food Waste Challenge

Today is World Environment Day, a perfect day for us to reaffirm our efforts to reduce food waste. I’m excited to announce that General Mills is a founding member of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a new program launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Food Waste Challenge urges producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies to reduce food loss and waste, recover wholesome food for human consumption, and recycle leftovers to use as animal feed, compost, and to generate energy.

This mission aligns with work already underway at General Mills and the work we have been leading across the industry as co-chair of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. And if you stay with me, I’ll lead you to where to find the recipe for the delicious-looking dish above made from leftovers.

Why is food waste an issue? Nearly 40 million tons of food waste is sent to landfills every year – that’s enough to meet the needs of every hungry American. In addition, food waste in landfills produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2. Plus growing all that food in the first place used a fair amount of nature’s resources, only to be thrown away.

Through our work leading the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, we have learned that two-thirds of food waste is being sent to landfill, and only a very small proportion is going to feed hungry people. We can do better than this. We must do better than this.

There are many opportunities with the current food system to eliminate food waste. Everyone has an opportunity to reduce food waste, including growers, food companies like General Mills, grocery stores, restaurants and all of us who eat food every day.

Throughout the General Mills supply chain, we have established new systems to more effectively identify opportunities to capture food, such as surplus ingredients or over-runs of seasonal or promotional packaging, for donation. Our efforts to decrease food waste generation have reduced overall waste generation at our manufacturing facilities by 40 percent since 2005.

In 2012, General Mills donated more than 10,800 metric tons of surplus food to U.S. charitable organizations – feeding hundreds of thousands of people rather than recycling the food (such as using it for animal feed) or sending food waste to landfills.

Nobody budgets for waste. You don’t go to the grocery store thinking you are going to throw away 20 percent of your purchase. However, the reality is that the average American family of four throws away more than $2,000 a year. And this adds up.

A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year.

I had the chance last fall to sit down with “American Wasteland” author Jonathan Bloom to talk about this issue. He shared some very simple ways for consumers to lessen their food waste, which were detailed in this post on A Taste of General Mills.

One of his tips is to save and eat leftovers. Not only does it prevent food waste, it saves money.

So, here’s a start. Try this easy recipe for Creamy Chicken Asparagus Pasta from BettyCrocker.com, which makes smart use of leftover chicken and broken lasagna noodles.

And for more leftover ideas, check out these articles from BettyCrocker.com.

10 Ways to Use Up Leftover Taco Shells

Five Ways to Use Leftover Eggs

How to Store Leftovers Safely

I urge you to take the challenge and join us.

Help us in our mission to reduce food waste.