Understanding the challenge: The environmental and social impact of food loss

Waste and loss are prevalent throughout the food industry. One third of all food is lost or wasted1, and the waste is spread throughout the entire value chain – from agriculture and rearing, through production, transportation, storage and in the kitchens of final consumers.

Sustainable Development Target 12.3 aims to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains2.” As an estimated 14% of the world’s food is lost in production before it reaches the retailer, reaching this target would lead to a significant amount of nutrition staying in the food production cycle3.

Addressing this target would contribute to several dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, such as reducing food insecurity and hunger, improving freshwater availability, addressing climate change, and protecting ecosystem sustainability.

For Roberto Franchitti, Executive Vice President for Services, addressing this goal is vital for several reasons. “Waste reduction is a moral imperative,” he says, “especially when it comes to food loss. Wasting or losing food ultimately contributes to food shortages, so everyone in the industry has an obligation to play a part.”

He also emphasizes the fact that reducing inefficiency and waste almost always brings business benefits as well. “I can’t think of any examples that we’ve been involved in, where there hasn’t been a business case for investing in efficiency and waste reduction,” he concludes.

Triple benefit to fighting food waste

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Increase the amount of food available for human consumption

One benefit to fighting food waste is that reducing waste makes more food available for human consumption, which is vital in a world where food insecurity is a real threat for many people around the world.

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Deliver cost savings to food producers and consumers

In food production, technical inefficiencies and malfunctions cause a large portion of the waste4 – food is perishable and unscheduled shutdowns can leave this food stranded at key moments in the production cycle. Pluse, changeovers between different products often lead to food loss while equipment is shut down, cleaned, and restarted.

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Lower the environmental and climate impact of food production

By protecting food throughout the value chain, we can turn by-products into added-value ingredients, increasing efficiencies, reducing food waste and making the most of raw materials.

Collaborative innovation in action

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Dramatic reductions of powdered food waste

Collaboration with Rockwell Automation has enabled us to launch our Powder Plant Booster™ solution, to be packaged with Rockwell Automation’s Model Predictive Control (MPC) and its Pavilion8® and PlantPAx® MPC technology. The new solution dramatically reduces waste by tackling quality variability and off-spec products, while improving throughput and reducing energy consumption.

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Connected factory workers

To help empower workers in food production with the tools and training needed to accelerate zero waste processes in food manufacturing plants, Tetra Pak partnered with the Canadian connected-worker-platform developer Poka. The result of the collaboration is the first global and scalable connected workforce service that Tetra Pak has rolled out as part of its training and support solution.

Explore other focus areas

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Sustainable materials

Every day, Tetra Pak protects billions of litres of food products and the people who consume them. To make sure we also protect the planet, we work relentlessly to develop the world’s most sustainable food package2.

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Food production

Enzymes, enrichment and even insects. These and many more innovative solutions will be needed to address global food production challenges that include an estimated 70% increase in the need for animal proteins by 2050.

1. World Bank. Addressing Food Loss and Waste: A global Problem with Local Solutions (2020).

2. UN General Assembly. Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (2015).

3. FAO. Indicator 12.3.1 – Global Food Loss and Waste.

4. Ishangulyyev, R., Kim, S. & Lee, S. H. Understanding Food Loss and Waste – Why Are We Losing and Wasting Food? Foods 8,297 (2019).

5. This means creating cartons that are fully made of renewable or recycled materials, that are responsibly sourced, therefore helping protect and restore our planet's climate, resources and biodiversity; contributing towards carbon-neutral production and distribution; are convenient and safe, therefore helping to enable a resilient food system; are fully recyclable.