Hot Topic Resource Cluster: D-Ns role in Food Waste (2023 Apr)

Summary of key points in this cluster:
– Zero Waste is achievable:
Nature never wastes. All byproducts feed something else. Waste is only waste if we waste. Thoughtful innovation, design, and behaviours are key to our success.

– Wasted food is harming our earth and people
adapted from FAO International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste:
• 31% of our food is wasted.
• 14% of the world’s food is lost after harvest, up to – but not including the retail stage of the supply chain.
• 17% is wasted in retail and at the consumption level.
• This food loss and waste account for 8 -10 per cent of the total global greenhouse gases, contributing to an unstable climate and extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding. These changes negatively impact crop yields, reduce the nutritional quality of crops, cause supply chain disruptions and threaten food security and nutrition.

– Dietitians-Nutritionists are influential and valuable!
While not solely responsible for environmental sustainability initiatives, Dietitians-Nutritionists have a strong influence over food services, and food in the institutions is a strong driver of environmental impacts. Dietitians-Nutritionists should be at the table, collaborating with relevant colleagues to support this effort.

– Practical Tips for using food wisely:
• First in First out – store & use food correctly from the pantry, freezer, and fridge
• Plan your meals, involve the whole family and make a shopping list together
• Be creative with any leftovers – eat them as part of the next meal or snack or transform them to something new.
• Share your solutions and discuss you struggles with relevant groups you are part of (schools, religions, community, etc.)

Resources in the ICDA SFS Toolkit:

Case study:

  • SecondBite was created in 2005 in Australia and shows how the hard work and determination of just two individuals can lead to a decrease in hunger and food waste and an indirect increase in food security for thousands of people by saving nutritious food from entering the landfill, and instead, entering the homes of many people who need it.
  • Addressing Food Waste at University College Dublin, Ireland (2023 Sep) – A team at University College Dublin (UCD) aimed to capture a snapshot of food waste within the campus food system. Two students undertook this as their final year project for the BSc in Human Nutrition at UCD and two students were working as work placement interns with the clinical nutrition and dietetics team at the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Sports Science.


  • Environmental Sustainability of Hospital Foodservices Across the Food Supply Chain: A systematic review (2020) – While not solely responsible for environmental sustainability initiatives, this evidence tells us that dietitians have a strong influence over hospital food services, and food in the hospital is a strong driver of environmental impacts. This means planning with the whole hospital food system in mind, to maximize benefits (e.g., co-benefits between decreased food waste, increased food and nutrient intake, recovery times, and decreased costs).
  • Reduce, Recover, Recycle—Food Waste in Prince George’s County, Maryland USA (2019) This study describes Prince George’s County‘s problem of food waste and presents policy recommendations and strategies, supported by national promising practices, to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste in the County. It provides an excellent example of what you can do where you are as well – either mimicking their study or using some of their ideas in your food council or other group or institution


  • Swedish Dietitians Work to Reduce Food Waste (2020) – Swedish Dietitians produced a handbook inSwedish that explains food waste and includes how-to information for reduction and measurement. Coordinator thought: Could a volunteer translate this handbook so more of us can use it?
  • Reducing Food Waste Activity (2013) To reduce food waste by planning in flexible meals that use up things that would otherwise be composted.To communicate your menu choices and sustainability benefits to clients


  • Sustainable & Wellness Oriented Lifestyle Practices (2020) by Integrated Dietetics’ Dr. Ram Aditya and Mr. T Kumaresan via Facebook live discusses important sustainability topics including biodiversity and food waste, and includes tips on how to incorporate sustainable practices in everyday life.


  • Diet for a Green Planet‘s firth criteria is reduced waste and includes a variety of tools related to diet & zero waste.

  • Edit history:
    • Initiated 2022 Sep
    • Updated 2023 Apr