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 a 2021 report, 10% of global emissions are caused by food waste. 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?

Other types of waste also create GHG emissions throughout their lifecycle, and practices like source reduction and recycling can lead to meaningful GHG reductions.

Get Involved

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 75% percent of waste in your operations from landfill and incineration in the U.S. and globally by 2030.
  • Achieve zero waste by operations by 2030.
  • Reduce 50 percent of food waste by 2030 in accordance with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 12.3.
  • Work with suppliers to reduce food waste in your supply chain by 20 percent by 2030.
  • 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.

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 help 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* (see RILA Waste Management Maturity Model below) and identify opportunities for improvement:


  • Aware of main sources of waste generation in company operations.


  • Measure waste footprint of factories, farms, warehouses, distribution centers and offices, across all of the operations.
  • Ad-hoc efforts to reduce and recycle waste.


  • Implement waste management programs involving reduction, reuse, donation and recycling across your operations.
  • Follow the EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM) in your approach.
  • Use Green Business Council resources to set up zero waste programs.


  • Commit to waste diversion or Zero Waste goals at some or across all your locations.


  • Look for opportunity to support development of waste and recycling infrastructure in markets in which you operate globally.
  • Consider being part of the solutions that advance infrastructure development: Closed Loop Fund, Recycling Partnership and Ocean Conservancy.

*Maturity model modified from RILA Retail Sustainability Management Leadership Model

EPA Waste Management Hierarchy

You can also follow the EPA non-hazardous materials and waste management hierarchy, which recognizes that no single waste management approach is suitable for managing all materials and waste streams in all circumstances. The hierarchy ranks the various management strategies from the most to the least environmentally preferred. Emphasis is placed on reducing, reusing and recycling as key to sustainable materials management.

  • Source Reduction & Reuse
  • Recycling/Composting
  • Energy Recovery
  • Treatment & Disposal

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* (see RILA Waste Management Maturity Model above) to identify opportunities for improvement.


  • Aware of main sources of food waste generation in company operations.


  • Ad-hoc efforts to reduce food waste, donate and recover (animal feed, composting and anaerobic digestion) unsold food.


  • Measure food waste footprint across operations including factories, farms, warehouses, and distribution centers using Food Loss and Waste Standard.
  • Implement food waste minimization programs involving reduction, donation and recovery (animal feed, composting and anaerobic digestion).


  • Implement leading food waste technologies and policies.
  • Food waste reduction targets and continuous improvement method in place.
  • Report food waste results publically using Food Loss and Waste Standard approach.


  • Conduct comprehensive food waste footprint exercise across value chain.
  • Effort in place to eliminate food waste from operations, product development, supply chain and at consumer level.

*Maturity model modified from RILA Retail Sustainability Management Leadership Model

EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy

The EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy focuses on different management strategies for wasted food. The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy.

  • Source Reduction
  • Feed Hungry People
  • Feed Animals
  • Industrial Uses
  • Composting
  • Landfill/Incineration

Food Waste in Your Value Chain

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.

Until the industry has transitioned 90% of all food products to adopt “Best if Used By” and “Use By” label, suppliers will be able to account for the greenhouse gas benefits of switching to standardized date labeling for products sold. After that 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 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. In addition to being SMART, also consider whether your goals are ambitious enough to address the environmental challenges that we are facing globally.

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 to CDP but would like to volunteer to do so, or have questions about disclosure, please contact respond@cdp.net.

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.