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Summit calls for global refrigeration drive to reduce food waste

Global Cold Chain Summit hears that half of food currently wasted could have its shelf life extended with refrigeration

Delegates from 33 countries at the second Global Cold Chain Summit in Singapore last month have heard how cooling techniques can be used to help reduce food waste. The Summit, organised by cooling giant Carrier saw speakers declare the “The Age of Food Efficiency.”

John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer of Carrier’s parent company UTC said: “We know there are many reasons why food is lost or wasted – but among them is the lack of or the underdevelopment of the cold chain.”

Mr Mandyck, who co-authored a report called Food Foolish: The Hidden Connection Between Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change, added: “Refrigeration is the best technology to ensure food safety for perishable goods and prolong its shelf life. That’s why this Summit is so important, as it helps connect a global dialogue on how we can sustainably grow the cold chain – which in turn, can reduce food waste and feed a growing population with fresh foods containing necessary micronutrients for good health and development.

He said: “Over the last 20 years, we’ve experienced the ‘Age of Energy Efficiency,’ - taking the same power base and spreading it more efficiently to urbanise in a sustainable manner. Energy efficiency has gone far, with more to go. It is now time for the ‘Age of Food Efficiency,’ - using the same food supply base that produces enough to feed 10 billion people and in the process avoid more production and environmental emissions that come with it. The potential to extend food supplies, with the help of an improved green cold chain, is extraordinary.”

Keynote speakers at the two-day conference included Dr. Joseph Mpagalile, from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO); Didier Coulomb, general director of the International Institute of Refrigeration; and Clementine O’Connor, sustainable food systems consultant for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Mr Mpagalile said the FAO is considering a new Cold Chain Coalition to fight food waste in developing countries. The Summit also endorsed the new UN Sustainable Development Goal that calls for halving food waste – at retail and consumer levels, as well as reducing food losses along the entire global food supply chain – by 2030. Delegates also heard that the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building standard could be an effective model for consideration for a green cold chain standard.

 Among the compelling statistics that were presented at the Summit were:

  • · The International Institute of Refrigeration estimates that 23 per cent of food loss and waste in developing countries is due to the lack of a cold chain.
  • · A new, independent study shows that greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste could see a 10-fold net reduction if developing countries have the same level of cold chain implementation as the developed world. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, producing 3.6 gigatons of CO2. The study confirms that clear improvements are achievable.
  • · According to Professor Judith Evans of London South Bank University, in developed countries, 42 per cent of food waste happens at the household level, confirming the need for greater consumer awareness. The “Love Food Hate Waste” awareness campaign led by UK government recycling agency WRAP is credited with generating a 21 per cent reduction in household food waste since 2010, she said.

David Appel, president, Carrier Transicold & Refrigeration Systems, said: “One third or more of the food we produce each year is never eaten, yet more than 50 per cent of the wasted food can have its shelf life extended by the cold chain. Only 10 per cent of worldwide perishable foods are refrigerated today, so there is immense opportunity to cut food waste and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions by implementing or improving the cold chain. As a leader in high-technology refrigeration solutions, Carrier actively contributes to the development of the cold chain by providing a communication platform, like this Summit, where all stakeholders have the opportunity to share, learn and build sustainable cold chain solutions to reduce food waste.”

Also at the event, Carrier presented a donation of $10,000 to ZeroWasteSG, a not-for-profit and non-government organisation in Singapore dedicated to eliminating the concept of waste.


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