American consumers, manufacturers and retailers let 60m tonnes of food go to waste in 2010; in the European Union nearly 90m tonnes are spoiled annually. According to the United Nations the developed world wastes almost as much food as sub-Saharan Africa produces in a given year. Unsurprisingly, startups are lining up to tackle this “market”.
The last few months have been a whirlwind for food waste efforts in Austin. Our working group wrapped up our first event on January 23rd, which was the kick-off and stakeholder meeting for the Year of Food Waste Prevention in Austin. More than 60 people attended, and included city officials, department heads, industry leaders and community advocates. The goal of the meeting was to launch and formalize the city-wide initiative around food waste in Austin.
Local green advocate Brandi Clark Burton led the meeting, and presented much of the research we’ve compiled from a local and national perspective. The first half of the meeting included the speakers below, who pledged their support for the initiative:
Brandi Clark Burton, Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer Austin EcoNetwork and EcoCampaigns
Laura Morrison, Austin City Council member
Lucia Athens, City of Austin Chief Sustainability Officer
Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery
Dr. Philip Huang, Medical Director/Health Authority
Vince Delisi, Assistant Division Manager, HHSD
Skeeter Miller, Austin Restaurant Association President, County Line & Cannoli Joe’s Owner & President
Following the presentation, we broke into working groups by industry cluster to address some of the challenges each segment might encounter as food is diverted from landfills. The working groups also identified where innovation might provide a boost — and perhaps most important — what the vision needs to be as things progress.
Response to the event was very positive. Here’s how people responded to the evaluation:
“I found the content important” 4.88(with 5 being the highest)
“I found the content relevant to me” 4.75
“Collaboration was evident”4.34
“This event will positively impact Austin” 4.46
“The city of Austin can accomplish a radical reduction of food waste” 4.63
We’re very excited about the momentum, but realize this is an ongoing fight. We’ve scheduled our next meeting for March 20h, so let us know if you’d like to help.