top of page

Unpacking the National U.S. Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste: Insights from the ReFED Summit

Christy Cook

Chief Sustainability Officer in Residence at 4xi

At the recent ReFED Summit, I had the privilege of witnessing USDA Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack’s announcement of the newly released National US Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics. This comprehensive strategy marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to address food waste in the United States.

As someone deeply invested in sustainability and the fight against food waste, being a part of the announcement felt like being a part of history and the great impact to come. I am excited to share insights from this announcement and discuss its implications for various stakeholders.


The Strategy: A Closer Look

The National US Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste is a multi-faceted approach aimed at cutting food waste in half by 2030. It builds on previous efforts and introduces new initiatives to tackle food waste at every stage of the supply chain. Key components of the strategy include:


  1. Enhanced Measurement and Reporting: Establishing standardized metrics for measuring food waste and encouraging businesses to report their progress.

  2. Public-Private Partnerships: Fostering collaboration between government agencies, businesses, non-profits, and community organizations to drive innovation and share best practices.

  3. Consumer Education: Launching nationwide campaigns to educate consumers about the impact of food waste and promote behaviors that reduce waste.

  4. Incentives for Waste Reduction: Offering financial incentives and support for businesses and organizations that implement effective waste reduction practices.

Objectives of the National Strategy

The primary objectives of the National US Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste are:

  1. Prevent food loss: Food loss is the reduction in the quantity or quality of food during production, post-harvest, and processing stages, primarily due to inefficiencies and inadequate infrastructure.

  2. Preventing Food Waste: Food waste is the discarding of edible food at the retail, food service, and consumer levels due to overstocking, improper storage, and consumer habits.

  3. Increase the recycling rate for all organic waste: Increasing the recycling rate for all organic waste helps reduce landfill use, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and recover valuable nutrients for soil enrichment.

  4. Support policies that incentivize and encourage the prevention of food loss and waste and organics recycling: Standardizing measurement and reporting methods to better track food loss and waste and monitor progress.

Who's Impacted and Why It Matters

Food waste is a pervasive issue with far-reaching consequences. The National Strategy aims to address the following key areas of impact:

  • Environmental Impact: Reducing food waste can significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions, conserve resources, and alleviate pressure on landfills.

  • Economic Impact: Food waste represents a massive economic loss. By reducing waste, businesses can cut costs, increase efficiency, and contribute to a more sustainable economy.

  • Social Impact: Millions of Americans face food insecurity. Addressing food waste can help redirect surplus food to those in need, supporting vulnerable communities.

The US in a Global Context

While the US has made significant strides with the National Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste, it finds itself in the middle tier when compared to other countries. Nations like France and the United Kingdom have been leading the way with comprehensive national strategies and strong regulatory frameworks aimed at reducing food waste. These countries have set ambitious targets and implemented effective policies that have placed them ahead in the global effort. The work happening in the Netherlands and Australia is impressive. Mexico is also poised to make great strides as they are starting their journey. However, the US's recent strategy indicates a strong commitment to catching up and potentially becoming a leader in the future.


My Perspective from the ReFED Summit

Attending the ReFED Summit and hearing Secretary Vilsack's announcement firsthand was a powerful experience. The commitment and enthusiasm from various stakeholders were palpable, and the collaborative spirit was inspiring. It's clear that addressing food waste requires a collective effort, and the National Strategy provides a robust framework for action.

As I reflect on the summit and the strategy, I'm reminded of the critical role that businesses play in this endeavor. By adopting and championing waste reduction practices, businesses can drive significant change and contribute to a more sustainable future.



The National US Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste is a landmark initiative that underscores the urgent need to address food waste in our country. From environmental conservation to economic efficiency and social equity, the benefits of reducing food waste are manifold. As businesses, we have both the responsibility and the opportunity to lead the charge in implementing this strategy and making a lasting impact.


I encourage all businesses to embrace this strategy, explore innovative solutions, and collaborate with stakeholders to reduce food waste and build a more sustainable world. Let's turn this vision into reality, one step at a time.


Stay tuned for future blogs on how businesses can positively impact food waste.

So, let's get started now. Sustainability Simplified©



Christy is 4xi's Chief Sustainability Officer in Residence is the lead of Sustainability Simplified©. Christy specializes in ESG Advisory, Strategies, Sustainability Road Maps, Measurement, Systems, and Reporting.

To learn more about Sustainability Simplified© and 4xi visit our website: who we are, what we do, and how we inspire a brighter future, together:


4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side, impacting the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.

We believe in a people-first, experience-led philosophy. Whether client, employee, or guest – their experience is the fundamental foundation of success.

We work with corporations, service providers, and innovators:

  • Strategic Advisory & Special Projects (SPx)

  • Headquarters Fractional Support On-Demand

  • Evolving Experiences© - Employee (EX) & Customer Experience (CX)

  • Design4Life©: Environmental, Physical, and Experiential Design

  • Global Amenities Strategy, Design & Operations

  • TRUE NORTH©: Strategic Partnership & Growth Academy

  • Explorers Innovation Directory: Gateway to Innovation

  • Sustainability Simplified©: Supply Chain & Innovation

  • Market Research Reports & Benchmarking

  • FoodCraft Foodservice Consulting

  • CREATE. Creative & Marketing Support


4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.

San Francisco | New York | Philadelphia | Orlando | North Carolina | Seattle | Silicon Valley | Santiago | London | Tokyo

81 views0 comments


bottom of page