food waste
MindeStensM | Adobestock

ReFED and Closed Loop Partners announce $100M funding platform to scale food waste solutions

The platform will receive funding from Google and The Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation.

ReFED and Closed Loop Partners, both based in New York, are partnering on a $100 million circular food solutions funding platform. The initiative is a blended finance investment and innovation platform to scale food waste reduction solutions by mobilizing critical capital into the sector.   

According to a joint statement, the platform will have an emphasis on catalytic funding and is designed to provide private and philanthropic financing and other support for organizations, municipalities and innovators that are developing solutions to help reduce the 35 percent of food that goes unsold or uneaten in the United States annually.  

The platform consists of three cross-cutting verticals: an $80 million investment fund, a $10 million grant fund [the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund] and a $10 million innovation program. The organizations say the platform has already attracted seed funders, including Google and The Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation.  

"Uneaten food is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions, generating 4 percent of U.S. and 8 percent of global emissions annually, so the announcement of this new systems-inspired funding vehicle is an exciting milestone in the fight against climate change," says Alexandria Coari, vice president of capital, innovation and engagement at ReFED. "Together with our partners, we've designed this funding platform to have a real impact on the amount of food going to waste, which in turn will drive reductions in greenhouse gases."  

Over the life of the Funding Platform, ReFED and Closed Loop Partners estimate that 10 million tons of food waste could be diverted, which would result in 15 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent avoided. This is the equivalent of taking 300,000 cars off the road every year for 10 years, and a water savings of nearly 800 billion gallons.  

In addition to this quantified impact, ReFED and Closed Loop Partners expect the Platform to accelerate the flow of additional funding to food waste solutions by:  

  • Demonstrating the breadth and impact potential of food waste funding opportunities;  

  • Sharing market intelligence about how scalable, feasible and viable specific solutions to food waste are; and,  

  • De-risking investments to unlock traditional, more risk-averse types of funding.  

At the recent 2022 Food Waste Solutions Summit presented by ReFED, the first grantees in the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund were announced. This component of the platform is designed to provide nonprofit and for-profit organizations with a total of $10 million in nonrecoverable and recoverable grants to de-risk and scale high-impact solutions to food waste. The first round of grantees included the following organizations:  

  • Upcycled Food Association (UFA), a nonprofit focused on convening, connecting and growing awareness of the power of upcycling to fight food waste;  

  • Food Recovery Network, a nonprofit growing their proven model of donation coordination and matching with a DEIJ lens; and,  

  • Hidden Gems, a for-profit business that offers a solution to recycle the 800 million pounds annually of nutrient-rich avocado pits that go to landfills.  

"With Google's anchor funding in the Catalytic Grant Fund portion of the Funding Platform in March, we're already seeing momentum," says Emily Ma, head of Food for Good at Google. "Working together with ReFED and Closed Loop Partners in this manner significantly accelerates our ability to achieve our circularity commitment of maximizing resources in our own operations and our supply chains and enable others to do the same."  

The platform will develop and scale food waste solutions by leveraging ReFED's expertise in food waste data and solutions in the food waste space and Closed Loop Partners' experience as a circular economy-focused investment and innovation firm. New data from ReFED show that private investment into food waste solutions topped $7.8 billion since 2011, including $2 billion in 2021. The organizations say much more is needed to reach national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.  

"There is a significant gap in what is needed for catalytic capital in the sector, and we feel the time is right to deploy this Funding Platform," says Bridget Croke, managing director of Closed Loop Partners. "We've had a lot of great encouragement from a variety of stakeholders that are eager to participate, and we encourage anyone interested to join us."  

For more information about the circular food solutions funding platform, contact Alexandria Coari at alexandria.coari@refed.org.