Frequently Asked Questions

Who is intended to use the FLW Standard?

The standard is voluntary and designed for users of all types and sizes, across all economic sectors, and in any country. It is intended for use by any entity (government, business, industry associations, inter-governmental organizations, and others) that wants to quantify and/or report the amount of FLW being generated within its jurisdiction. The simplest way to start using the standard is by reading the Executive Summary, which provides an overview of the most important features of the FLW Standard.

Why should FLW be measured?

Many countries, companies, and other entities currently lack sufficient insight into how much, why, and where food and/or associated inedible parts are removed from the food supply chain. This makes it difficult to develop strategies and prioritize actions for preventing FLW, and for identifying the most productive use of the FLW that does arise. In short, it is challenging to manage what you do not measure. Moreover, what is considered “food loss and waste” can vary widely between countries and industries, and without a consistent set of definitions or an accounting and reporting framework, it is difficult to compare data within or between entities over time and draw useful insight.

The FLW Standard addresses these challenges by providing accounting and reporting requirements that can be used consistently by entities around the world. It also includes universally applicable definitions for describing the components of “food loss and waste” included in an inventory.

How does the standard define food?

In the FLW Standard, food is defined as any substance—whether processed, semi-processed, or raw—that is intended for human consumption. “Food” includes drink, and any substance that has been used in the manufacture, preparation, or treatment of “food.”

The standard also provides a definition for inedible parts, which refers to components associated with a food that, in a particular food supply chain, are not intended to be consumed by humans. Examples of inedible parts associated with food could include bones, rinds, and pits/stones.

How does the standard define food loss and waste?

The FLW Standard is designed to allow for the fact that different organizations will have different reasons for quantifying FLW. These different goals lead to (or government regulations may even explicitly state) different definitions of what constitutes FLW. The FLW Standard, therefore, defines what the components of FLW could be in terms of the possible material types (i.e., food and/or associated inedible parts) and destinations (where material removed from the food supply chain is directed). It allows an entity to select which combination of material types and destinations it considers to be “food loss and waste,” in accordance with the entity’s stated goals.

For example, an entity that seeks to meet targets aimed at improving food security may define FLW only in terms of the food (not the associated inedible parts) that leaves a particular food supply chain, regardless of the ultimate destination. Another entity that seeks to meet targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from waste management operations by limiting the amount of FLW that goes to landfills may define FLW as both food and associated inedible parts, but only one destination would be relevant—in this example, landfill.

Does the standard include just food, or associated inedible parts as well?

Users of the standard may choose whether to quantify both food and associated inedible parts, just food, or just associated inedible parts.

What are the requirements of the FLW Standard?

The requirements of the FLW Standard can be found on page 12 of the Executive Summary as well as in Chapter 4 of the FLW Standard. Both documents also lay out steps to follow when quantifying FLW.

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