We explored the links between food waste and food system resilience in a recently published paper in Ecosystem Services Journal.
Much food is wasted because the actors in supply chains seek to improve their own resilience – so they overplant, over-order or overbuy food. This leads to “unnecessary” emissions & resource use, undermining the long-term resilience of the system as a whole.
But many synergistic actions are possible that both reduce waste and improve resilience. The more resilient actors are, the less they need to over-buy and over-produce.
In the paper we created a ‘system map’ and a long-list of food waste reduction interventions. We then assessed each intervention on it positive or negative effects on different aspects of resilience, such as redundancy, flexibility and connectivity.
Through this process we identified synergistic interventions, notably improved storage, improved food preparation to increase shelf-life, increased use of long-life products, equal sharing of risk along the supply chain and improved connectivity and gave policy recommendations on how to promote to improve both short and long-term food-system resilience through reduced food waste.
The paper is thus a combination of academic research at SLU and experiences of myself and colleagues working on food waste as practitioners at WRAP.
The article has been published open access in Ecosystem Services: Bajželj, B., Quested, T.E., Röös, E., Swannell, R.P.J., 2020. The Role of Reducing Food Waste for Resilient Food Systems. Ecosyst. Serv. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101140