General Mills is doing more for the public than just making Lucky Charms. The large-scale food corporation has recently jumped on board with the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program represents a call for the better distribution and use of food by removing it from the waste stream. General Mills and the others involved aim to reduce the amount of food waste going into landfills, reuse some of the waste to combat hunger, and recycle the remaining food scraps for energy generation and clean water generation among other uses.
General Mills’ involvement in this program does not represent the first time the large-scale corporation is working on shrinking its waste footprint. As a member of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, the company had already been reducing its solid waste and has a plan to cut its totals in half by 2015. Their efforts began in 2005, and to date have diverted from landfill and donated more than 23 million pounds of food to charities all over the United States.
General Mills is not the only corporation involved in this program. Unilever North America has pledged to either divert for donation to Feeding America or divert for conversion to energy all of the food waste generated from their 22 U.S. food processing and manufacturing plants and headquarter offices. Wakefern Food Corp a cooperative comprised of 48 members who individually own and operate more than 250 supermarkets under the ShopRite banner in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware has outlined objectives surrounding donating and recycling. Many of their stores have already installed the Eco-Safe Digester, an on-site solution that transforms waste into nutrient neutral water that can safely be disposed of via conventional sanitary sewer systems where it is then converted into energy, clean water or compost.
This USDA is also hoping that companies likes General Mills will work to improve their supply-chain network to create faster and more direct routes to Feeding America. A challenge many food manufacturers and suppliers face today. The program also hopes to engage consumers and educate them on the benefits of reducing the creation of food waste.
The actions made by both GM and the USDA indicate a growing focus on the waste industry. Not only does this program mean for a greener environment, but it also means for a better United States, as we help those who are in need. It provides for a solution to two extremely important national issues. And this is only the beginning.
The USDA is hoping to have 400 partner organizations by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020.