Eliminating waste from food, products and materials in your operations and throughout the value chain can help lower costs, increase efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten globally is estimated at 3.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent. If food waste were a country, it would be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the U.S. and China. Isn’t that reason enough to want to be part of the change?
As part of your Project Gigaton efforts to make a difference in this area, consider addressing food, product and material waste that come from factories, warehouses, distribution centers and farms and contribute to GHG emissions. Reducing and diverting waste from landfills can also increase operating efficiency and lower costs.
For example, you could commit to:
- Divert 90% percent of waste in your operations from landfill and incineration in the U.S. and globally by 2030.
- Achieve zero waste in your operations in the U.S. and globally by 2030 (in accordance with ZWIA or TRUE or ULE definition).
- Reduce 50 percent of food waste by 2030 (compared to the 2017 baseline) in accordance with UN SDG 12.3.
- Work with suppliers to reduce food waste in your supply chain by 20 percent by 2030 (versus 2018).
- Standardize date labels across 100 percent of your brands to “Best If Used By” or “Use By” as recommended by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) by 2023.
The above goals are illustrative examples only. You’ll need to determine the scope, timeline and type of goal that makes sense for your company and products. After joining Project Gigaton, you’ll be asked to report on your progress annually so the impact can be recognized and attributed toward the Project Gigaton target.
- Practical guidance on setting a waste reduction goal.As you consider your goal, make sure to check out the Project Gigaton Calculators, which may help you identify potential goal areas in each pillar and estimate the emissions impact of your work.
Reducing and diverting general waste is a clear way to reduce your costs and lower emissions associated with waste going to landfills and incineration. When considering how to develop a general waste diversion plan and set up a goal, you can follow this waste handling maturity model* and identify opportunities for improvement:
- Practical guidance on setting a food waste reduction goal.As you consider your goal, make sure to check out the Project Gigaton Calculators, which may help you identify potential goal areas in each pillar and estimate the emissions impact of your work.
Food Waste in Your Operations
Due to differences of waste in the food value chain, we have dedicated a separate sub-section to food waste reduction in your own operations (farms and factories). The overall approach will be similar to the general waste goal and relies on the use of the Food Loss and Waste Protocol framework. When developing a food waste diversion plan and goal, consider the following food waste handling maturity model* to identify opportunities for improvement.
To support the Consumer Goods Forum’s food waste resolution, we encourage you to work with your direct supply chain to reduce post-harvest losses at the farm level and food losses along production chains. Prioritize geographic regions that are important for you.
Food Waste at The Customer Level
To reduce the per capita global food waste at consumer level, we encourage you to standardize expiration date labels across your brands following the CGF and Champions 12.3. Date Labeling Call for Action which encourages food producers to take three important steps:
1. Utilize only one label at a time per product.
2. Utilize only two types of written food date labels on packaging: one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. “Use by”) or one food quality indicator for non-perishable items (e.g., “Best if used by”). The exact wording will be tailored to regional context and what is most understandable for the consumer.
3. Educate consumers on how to understand date labels.
In 2018 Walmart collaborated with ReFED, WWF and Ohio State University, with support from the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center to develop methodology that calculates greenhouse gas emissions reductions at the customer level that results from implementation of standardized date labeling.
Suppliers will be able to account for the greenhouse gas benefits of switching to standardized date labeling for products sold until the industry has transitioned 90% of all food products to adopt “Best if Used By” and “Use By” label, at which point this methodology will be removed as a reporting option.
Additionally to reduce food waste at customer level:
· Look for ways to introduce food processing and packaging innovations that extend food shelf life.
· Educate customers about measures to prevent food waste at the household level.
- Are your goals SMART?Are your goal(s) SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time limited? Watch this video to learn how to set formal, specific goals that lead to substantially better returns.
- How to calculate and report emissions saved.Each year, you’ll be asked to submit data points to Walmart based on the Project Gigaton pillars you’ve joined (Energy, Waste, etc.). For every pillar you report to, you’ll be asked to submit the impact of improvements you’ve achieved in the reporting year. There are three options for submitting data to Project Gigaton reporting:
Option 1: For companies that need help calculating the greenhouse gas impact of their initiatives, let the Project Gigaton Calculators help! These calculators are available to help you report your progress during the annual Project Gigaton reporting period. They may also help you identify and estimate the emissions impact of future Project Gigaton goals.
Option 2: If your company already reports to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, your disclosure can be leveraged to report emissions reductions to Project Gigaton. To report to Project Gigaton using your CDP disclosure, you must grant permission through your company’s Project Gigaton account for Walmart to use your CDP data and all CC4.3b fields must be completed in your CDP disclosure. If you haven’t received a request to disclose from CDP but would like to volunteer to do so, or have questions about disclosure, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Option 3: For companies that do not use the Project Gigaton Calculators or report their emissions reductions to the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire each year, you can still report your already calculated aggregate greenhouse gas emissions reductions to Project Gigaton.
For additional questions about Project Gigaton, refer to our FAQs.
Need a deep dive into calculating emissions? Check out our Project Gigaton Accounting Methodology.