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U.S. Food Waste Challenge and General Mills join forces

General Mills was named a founding partner of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a collaborative initiative between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The U.S. Food Waste Challenge urges producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and other government agencies to reduce food loss and waste, recover wholesome food for human consumption and recycle discards for other uses, such as animal feed, compost or energy generation.

Food that can be consumed but is trashed bypasses hungry Americans. Today, one in six Americans struggles with hunger. Moreover, food waste has a dramatic impact on the environment. Food in landfills creates methane gas, a significant source of greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than CO2 over a 100 year period, according to the EPA.

Since 2011, General Mills has been at the forefront of the food waste issue as a co-chair of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. The goals of the Alliance – comprising the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association and many member companies – are to reduce the amount of food going to landfills and to increase the amount of food going to hungry people.

As part of the company’s participation in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, General Mills has made a commitment to focus on enhancing its current process by creating a direct communication link to Feeding America and adding capabilities to donate ingredients and packaging, in addition to finished products, which could save an estimated 30 million pounds of waste.

This commitment aligns with the General Mills 2015 global sustainability goal to reduce solid waste generation by 50 percent from a 2005 baseline. Throughout the General Mills supply chain the company has established new systems to more effectively identify opportunities to capture food for donation, such as surplus ingredients or over-runs of seasonal or promotional packaging. The company’s efforts to decrease food waste generation have reduced overall waste generation at its manufacturing facilities by 40 percent since 2005.

From promotional cereal boxes and snack bars to ingredients like flour, General Mills continually seeks opportunities to rescue food from landfill and donate it to food shelves. In 2012, General Mills donated more than 10,800 metric tons of surplus food to U.S. charitable organizations – feeding hundreds of thousands of people rather than recycling the food (such as using it for animal feed) or sending food waste to landfills. Since 1999, General Mills has donated $250 million in food worldwide.