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03/21/2022

Walmart pushes sustainability efforts by joining food waste initiative

Walmart aims to support and work toward the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment’s goal to reduce and prevent food waste by 50% along the West Coast of the United States by 2030.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Sandra Levy profile picture

Walmart is forging ahead with its efforts to fight food waste and inspire other businesses to do the same.

It was recently announced that the retailer has joined the Pacific Coast Food Waste Commitment.

By doing so the company has publicly committed to support and work towards PCFWC's goal to reduce and prevent food waste by 50% along the West Coast of the United States by 2030 as a climate change solution.

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"We are proud to support the PCFWC in this effort to reduce food waste. At Walmart, reducing waste has been a point of focus for many years. Since 2019 we have sold 862 million food units through food discount programs. In CY2020, we donated more than 745 million pounds of food globally. Better data can identify scalable ways for us to accelerate these efforts further, and it is incumbent on retailers like Walmart to join efforts such as the PCFWC to address these systemic issues," Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart, said.

As one of the top seller of groceries along the West Coast and across the country, Walmart's data on food loss and waste throughout their operations in the region, which will be anonymized and aggregated with data from the PCFWC's other retail signatories, will help provide a more precise estimate of waste across the entire retail sector and allow a more accurate identification of key waste "hot spots" to target, the company said.

Walmart's participation in the PCFWC builds on its more than 15 years of sustainability leadership and aligns with its goals under Project Gigaton, a company-wide effort to work with its suppliers to reduce or avoid one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from the global value chain by 2030.

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Food waste is responsible for approximately 4% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – the same amount generated by 21% of cars on the road. The PCFWC is one of the largest public-private partnerships dedicated to food waste reduction, bringing together food businesses and local jurisdictions on the West Coast to reduce food waste in accordance with national and international sustainability targets.

The participation of the retail leader will enhance the effort in important ways, both through their work to reduce waste throughout their own operations and through their influence on suppliers and other partners up and down the value chain. Importantly, it also will serve as a model for collaboration for other businesses who are considering committing to the PCFWC and sends a strong signal to the industry that partnering with other businesses in a pre-competitive format is an important way to target, measure and act to reduce food waste.

"Food waste is a systemwide problem, which means it requires a systemwide commitment to solve it," senior director of Food Loss and Waste at World Wildlife Fund, a PCFWC resource partner, Pete Pearson said. "The participation of industry leaders like Walmart and Sodexo in the PCFWC shows that waste reduction is no longer a competitive issue. Their presence will demonstrate to others that when businesses are working together to measure, share data, and reduce waste, overall progress will happen much faster."

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The PCFWC provides a unique opportunity for businesses and jurisdictions to work collaboratively to drive food waste reduction in the Pacific Coast region. Signatories to the PCFWC receive a range of benefits, including:

  • Return on Investment – Food waste reduction programs around the world have shown proven significant return on investment for all types of food businesses;
  • Data Insights – Aggregated anonymous reporting from all PCFWC signatories enables businesses to measure their progress, identify priority areas of action and benchmark against competitors; and
  • Industry Collaboration – Pre-competitive Working Groups open to all PCFWC signatories offer opportunities for businesses to learn from each other's successes; discuss solutions to challenges; and engage with government representatives through special policy roundtable discussions.

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The PCFWC, which also serves as a model of collaboration for other regions around the country to do their part to reduce food waste, is aligned with the "U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions" program from the USDA and EPA.

In addition, it is included as part of important global efforts, including the World Resources Institute's "10x20x30" initiative, which brings together ten of the world's biggest food retailers and providers to each engage with 20 of their priority suppliers to halve rates of food loss and waste by 2030. All of these efforts were implemented to drive action to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which details targets for food waste reduction around the world, the company said.

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