Eliminating waste in your operations (factories, farms, warehouses and distribution centers) and throughout the value chain can have an immediate positive effect on your bottom line. The elimination of waste can reduce costs, increase the efficient use of resources and reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with operating your business. Is your business ready to reduce the waste in your operations?
Food, products and material waste is associated with significant amounts of 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.
How to Join
To join the Waste pillar of Project Gigaton, your company should commit to reduce the emissions from waste in your own operations, supply chain or at the customer level. Examples of areas you could target for waste reduction include: general waste reduction in your operations, food waste reduction in your operations and value chain, or food waste reduction at the customer level.
For example, you could submit a goal to:
- Divert 80 percent of solid waste in your operations in the U.S. and globally by 2030.
- Achieve zero waste in your operations in the U.S. and globally by 2030.
- Decrease food waste sent to landfill and incineration (per metric ton of food produced) by 30 percent by 2025 (compared to the 2017 baseline).
- Work with suppliers to reduce food waste in the supply chain by 20 percent by 2025 (versus 2018).
- Standardize expiration dates across 80 percent of brands to “Best If Used By” and “Use By” as prescribed by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).
The above goals are illustrative examples only and by no means the only goal style that could be submitted as part of Project Gigaton – you’ll need to determine the scope, timeline and type of goal that makes sense for your company and products. Formal, specific goals lead to substantially better returns and are an important part of being eligible to be recognized by Walmart; so, when setting a new goal, make sure it’s SMART. SMART goals are:
- Specific – what’s your impact area?
- Measurable – can you measure progress?
- Achievable – is this a reasonable goal?
- Relevant – does this fit into your strategy?
- Time limited – by when?
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 general waste reduction goal
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:
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.
- Practical guidance on setting a food waste reduction goal
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.
The EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy (pictured below) 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.
Food waste in your value chain
To support the U.N. goal to reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030, we encourage you to work with your direct supply chain to reduce post-harvest losses at the farm level. Prioritize geographic regions that are important for you.
Food waste at the customer level
To support the U.N. goal to reduce the per capita global food waste at the consumer level in half by 2030, we encourage you to:
Standardize expiration date labels across your brands following the CGF Date Labeling Call for Action which encourages food producers to take three important steps:
Utilize only one label at a time per product.
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.
Educate consumers on how to understand date labels.
Introduce food processing and packaging innovations that extend food shelf life.
Educate customers about measures to prevent food waste at the household level.
- What will you report each year and how will it be converted to GHGs?
Each year, you’ll be asked to submit data points to Walmart based on the Project Gigaton pillars you’ve joined (Energy, Waste, Agriculture, 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: 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 the following CC4.3b fields must be completed in your CDP disclosure:
Activity type and description
Estimated annual metric tons CO2e savings
Estimated lifetime of the initiativ
Percent of CO2e savings dedicated toward Project Gigaton (assumed to be 100% unless otherwise noted)
Please use the CDP Climate Change Reporting Guidance to properly respond to question CC4.3b. If you haven’t received a request to disclose from CDP but would like to volunteer to do so, please contact email@example.com and CDP will help you get started.
Option 2: For companies that do not 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 by providing the following:
Estimated annual metric tons of CO2e savings
Activity type and description
Estimated lifetime of the initiative
Additionally, if your company already uses the EPA WARM Tool to calculate the impact of your waste management programs, emissions reduction figures provided by the tool can be submitted to Project Gigaton.
Option 3: For companies that need help calculating the greenhouse gas impacts of their initiatives, you can still report to Project Gigaton by submitting the following data points and allowing Walmart to calculate your greenhouse gas emissions reductions according to the approach described in the Project Gigaton Accounting Methodology.
To calculate the impact of waste diversion and management initiatives in your operations and/or supply chain, report the following:
Waste diversion quantity (short tons)
Material type (food and non-food categories)
Management practice type
Scope (operations or supply chain)
In future reporting years, you will be able to report impacts from products sold with standardized date labeling and shelf-life extension to Project Gigaton.