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New global partnership to tackle waste and address poverty

Every year, nearly 1.3 billion tonnes of food is thrown away1. That’s about a third of the total amount produced in the world. The value of food wasted each year is $700 billion2 and the decay of solid waste contributes to 5% of global greenhouse gases3.

The power of food banks

Food banks are addressing the waste issue while also helping people living in poverty. They distribute essential everyday items – such as food, soap, shampoo and laundry powder – that are perfectly usable which would otherwise simply go to waste.

Thanks to Unilever´s broad portfolio of brands and the reach of our operations, we are in a unique position to contribute to the food banks’ mission. We have signed a new partnership with The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), an international non-profit organisation that fights world hunger by creating, supporting and strengthening local food banks globally. Working together, we aim to reach millions of people across the 30 countries in which GFN operates.

Multi-faceted partnership embedded in Unilever´s business

First, we want to increase in-kind donations of our products from our supply chains across the world. This means that perfectly usable products, destined for landfill, are reaching people who can make use of them, thus reducing Unilever’s impact on the environment.

Secondly, we want to raise awareness through our brands. For every Unilever product purchased during a promotional in-store campaign, a portion of the proceeds is donated to food banks. This makes it easy for us to help more communities and engage more people with the cause.

Thirdly, we want to encourage our employees to volunteer by getting involved in product collection and distribution, and also in specialist tasks like IT, marketing and finance to make food banks more effective and sustainable.

And fourthly, we want to raise awareness among the general public on the issues of waste as well as the role that food banks play in helping address this.

This model has already been successfully implemented in Europe through our partnership with the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA), and our Foundation Ambassador, Sonali Shah travelled from the US to Paris to see the programme in action.

Creating brighter futures through partnerships

FEBA brings together 264 food banks in 22 member countries where poverty and social inequality have been drastically rising. Over 16% of the EU population – 80 million people – live below the poverty threshold4. FEBA’s daily mission is to reduce hunger and malnutrition by fighting food waste and promoting social solidarity. In 2014, they distributed the equivalent of 2.25 million meals per day (411,000 tonnes of food) to 5.9 million people.

Sonali spent time at the main food bank warehouse and hypermarkets that work with FEBA, talking to the organisation’s volunteers to see how Unilever France has been helping. “I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity,” says Sonali, “and to really see the difference that Unilever can make in helping reduce the impact on the environment and food wastage, and serve people we would otherwise be unable to reach.”

Find out more about Sonali’s visit to Paris

1United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP

2Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, FAO

3United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP

4Inequality Watch, Inequality Watch

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