Sometimes it takes the proverbial bottom line to convince someone to do the smart thing. When it comes to big business, it's often the only thing that will get them to make a smart choice.

Over the past several years, I've written frequently about the staggering statistics of food waste. Globally one-third of the edible food produced goes to waste somewhere between the field and the trashcan, and that waste is enough to feed the world's 870 million hungry people. That one statistic should be sufficient to convince anyone with a stocked pantry to do what's possible to waste a lot less food.

But even for me, there's a more motivational statistic when it comes to food waste: In the U.S., a family of four can easily throw away $350 of food each month. When you see that number, it's easy to care about food waste. Perhaps that's self-centered, but it's also human.

The business numbers have recently been crunched, and on average "for every $1 a company invested in food loss and waste reduction — through training programs, providing equipment like scales to quantify food, and improving storage and packaging — they received a $14 return on investment," according to Fast Company.

A new report from the World Resources Institute builds a "solid business case" for curbing food waste by informing CEOs and others in charge of making the big business decisions that the idea that food loss and waste is just "the cost of doing business" should be reconsidered.

Researchers looked at more than 1,200 business sites from 17 countries from a variety of sectors — food manufacturing, grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and more — and found that 99 percent of these businesses had a positive return on investment when they reduced food waste.

Of course, the almighty dollar isn't the only reason to curb food waste, even if it may be the top motivating factor. The study also found that reducing food loss and waste also benefits environmental sustainability, stakeholder relationships and ethical responsibility.

And, let's not forget the human factor here. Some of the food that doesn't get wasted ends up getting in the hands of the hungry, which ideally should be our main motivation.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Businesses save significant cash when they invest in curbing food waste
On average, for every $1 invested in food waste reduction, businesses save $14, study shows.