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World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 22 May 2018
  • Author: Pernilla Halldin, Global Public Affairs, H&M

WWF’s Climate Savers program enables companies to work with individual WWF country offices to set and achieve climate goals while also enabling best practice sharing and support across companies and countries. While at the Climate Savers Summit in Washington, DC from May 15-16, representatives from 17 companies and eight WWF country offices came together to do just that. During the Summit, Pernilla Halldin of H&M’s Global Public Affairs team shared insights into trends in and approaches to corporate engagement on climate policy. With their headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, H&M works with WWF-Sweden and Climate Savers as part of their efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from their operations. Below Pernilla provides more on how H&M views its role in building a climate positive future.

Pernilla Halldin, H&M

Why does H&M care about reducing carbon emissions?

It is a question of survival for the planet. Governments and policy makers will need to set a direction and force us all to go in the right direction. We don’t want to wait for that. We want to take a leadership position; and therefore, we have set the vision to be Climate Positive by 2040. We truly believe this transformation will be positive for our business.

What climate goals has H&M been focused on, and what are you doing to reach them?

Our overarching and long-term goal is to become Climate Positive by 2040 in our whole value chain, and that goes from the cotton fields to your washing machine. To reach this goal we focus on three areas - energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate resilience.

How has working with World Wildlife Fund helped H&M reach its climate goals?

It is always good to have someone who can see you from the outside and who has other knowledge and expertise than you do internally. WWF and Climate Savers are a great partner in that sense. We are having open discussions, and they challenge and support us in our way forward. One important project is the development of our approach to climate resilience.

What actions would you like to see your industry adopt to curb climate change?

Climate goals can’t be reached by one player. We always need to cooperate. To change policies and regulation to encourage or force changes towards 100% renewable energy systems is something we need to do together. Another example is our supply chain, we share our suppliers with many other companies, and we need to cooperate to make the supply chain climate neutral.

What advice do you have for companies just starting their climate journeys? 

  1. Understand your impact in the whole value chain. When we look at our value chain we see that the supply chain stands for 75 percent of our CO2 emissions, customer use is 20 percent, and the store operation, offices, warehouses and transport is 5 percent. Put your focus on the right things.
  2. Remember that it is a long-term journey where you improve step by step.
  3. Have a constant dialogue with stakeholders and experts to understand their approach to your business. That will help you see your work from different angles.
  • Date: 21 May 2018
  • Author: Pete Pearson, WWF Director of Food Waste

For over a decade, I’ve been professionally advocating for “zero waste.” It all started when I read Braungart and McDonough’s book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. The premise was simple. The way we design things doesn’t make a lot of sense, and often our design for systems, products and events does not include a way to recycle or reuse them. The book itself is brilliant, it’s made from recycled plastic and is waterproof – great for reading in the pool on a hot summer day.

Human waste is created from poor design. We live in a throw-away world where convenience is king. In our current system avoiding waste can be really challenging. We need to re-imagine a future where we consciously design systems to eliminate waste and move beyond responding or reacting. It’s through better design that we create zero waste systems with zero inconvenience.

When asked about eliminating waste and getting to zero, inevitably, the question comes up, is zero waste really possible? My canned answer is that achieving zero waste is extremely difficult, and what’s important is that we all carry a chip on our shoulder about waste. Zero waste is an attitude – it declares that our intention is to eliminate the entire concept of waste and take our playbook from nature. Nothing is wasted in nature. On Thursday, April 26, in Greenwich, CT, Thomas McQuillan, Director of Sustainability at Baldor Specialty Foods, set out to do just that: host an event with ZERO waste and raise funds for local nutrition programs.

Thomas and his team worked hard to showcase an event where nothing would be wasted, especially food. WWF cares a lot about food because of the significant environmental impact food and agriculture has on our planet. Wasting food is a waste of energy, water and often wildlife habitat. We have to freeze the footprint of food and ensure waste is eliminated.

Thomas and his team are out to challenge the nay-sayers who are quick to point out that ZERO WASTE is not possible. The laws of thermodynamics state that a temperature of negative 273.15 Celsius, absolute zero, is also not possible. Maybe there was a bit of waste that went to compost or recycling, so they didn’t hit absolute zero, but they set an example for the catering and events industry and got pretty darn close through intentional planning, attitude and design. Take a peek behind the scenes to see the effort that went into a thought-provoking and delicious event.

  • Date: 16 May 2018
  • Author: Andrew McMullen, LEGO Group’s Environmental Supply Chain Senior Manager

World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers is a program meant to aid businesses in becoming leaders of the low-carbon economy, inspiring companies to change how they think about climate solutions and develop businesses models that promote sustainability. As Climate Savers companies met this week in Washington, DC, Andrew McMullen, LEGO Group’s Environmental Supply Chain Senior Manager, shared insights into LEGO Group’s work with Climate Savers and why having a positive impact on the environment matters to the company.

Andrew McMullen, Lego

Why does LEGO Group care about reducing carbon emissions?

Our core purpose as a company is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. We believe that encouraging children’s creativity and imagination will give them skills to continue solving environmental issues in the future.

It is the LEGO Group’s commitment and ambition to “make a positive impact on the world our children will inherit.” We believe climate change is one of the biggest global challenges of our time. Our understanding of climate change is based on science, leading us to conclude global warming will initiate major changes to planet weather systems. We are also seeing reductions in snow and ice resulting in sea level rises, these changes are jeopardizing many species of life on earth.

We agree with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), that human action has been the major contributor to most of the global warming over the past 100 years.

What climate goals has LEGO Group been focused on, and what are you doing to reach them?

We want to address climate change by reducing our emissions through a combination of reducing energy consumption and direct investments in renewable energy assets. We want to use resources responsibly and eliminate waste generation from production. This is to ensure we do not consume resources at a faster rate than they are regenerated, so that future generations can also benefit from the same variety of resources and materials our generation has access to.

Commitments from LEGO Group:

  • As a toy company, we are well placed to engage children on this topic, so we commit to highlighting the environment agenda with children through our platform.
  • We will continue to ensure 100 percent of energy consumption is balanced by production of renewable energy sources – a goal that was reached in 2017.
  • 90% of the company’s overall carbon impact takes place in the supply chain. We commit to collaborate with suppliers to reduce their carbon emission impacts across the process that delivers LEGO bricks into consumers’ homes.
  • We have given ourselves a target to use sustainable materials in all our core products (elements, packaging and building instructions) by 2030. We will engage with partners around the world (NGOs, Suppliers, Universities, Customers, Consumers, 3rd Parties) to get this right, we do not know all the answers, but we know this is an area where the LEGO group can have a significant impact.

How has working with World Wildlife Fund helped LEGO Group reach its climate goals?

The LEGO Group has been part of WWF’s Climate Savers program since 2013. We have met or exceeded all of our climate targets since the partnership began, and together with WWF we continue to set ambitious new targets to ensure a more sustainable way of producing LEGO bricks. WWF shared global best practice with us and challenges us to set the right climate targets for our company.

What actions would you like to see your industry adopt to curb climate change?

Industry is a major contributor to global warming, due to significant emissions of CO2. If we are going to be good corporate citizens, we need to act and find solutions to operate without emitting CO2 and other gasses with a high GWP. We encourage all businesses to commit to reducing their own environmental footprint. Industry should ensure climate change is addressed by suppliers, customers and consumers throughout the value chains in which they operate. Industry should also share data and best practice to speed up the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We believe the Paris Climate Agreement is a great start to ensuring the global community do what is needed to reduce global warming. We will remain actively engaged with the international community as part of the global effort to hold warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our security, prosperity, and health.

What advice do you have for companies just starting their climate journeys?

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Start with understanding what environmental impacts your business creates. Then you can start to focus on the low hanging fruit, benchmark yourself against similar organizations and define what targets are right for your organization. NGO’s and trade bodies are great sources of inspiration, we work with WWF, CDP and RE100 around climate change issues and they have been a great help. Also go and speak to the companies who are most vocal in this space, I have certainly reached out to many of them and they are happy to share what they have learned.

  • Date: 15 May 2018
  • Author: David Eichberg, HP Inc.’s Global Initiatives Lead for Sustainability and Social Innovation

This week, members of World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers program are meeting in Washington, DC. Representatives from eight countries and nearly 20 major companies are attending the summit, discussing topics including science-based target setting, improving renewable energy access, and encouraging industries and governments to take more ambitious climate action. David Eichberg, HP Inc.’s Global Initiatives Lead for Sustainability and Social Innovation, shared why climate targets are a priority for HP Inc.

David Eichberg, HP

Why does HP care about reducing carbon emissions?

Climate change is one of the most significant and urgent issues facing business and society today. At HP, we see the need to act as our responsibility and vital to the longevity of our business. We support the Paris Climate Agreement and the global efforts to address climate change. We are working to ensure our business is resilient, innovating to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapting to an evolving global business and regulatory environment that supports our customers, partners and employees. This includes setting ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets across our entire value chain—operations, supply chain and products. 

What climate goals has HP been focused on, and what are you doing to reach them?

We take a value-chain approach to addressing our carbon emissions impacts, setting climate goals for our global operations, supply chain and product portfolio. HP set a target to reduce the GHG emissions from our global operations by 25 percent by 2025, compared to 2015. We also set goals to reduce GHG emissions intensity of HP’s product portfolio by 25 percent by 2020, compared to 2010, and to reduce first-tier production supplier and product transportation-related GHG emissions intensity by 10 percent by 2025, compared to 2015. Confirming the rigor of our goal-setting process, HP was one of the first 60 companies to have its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative. To reach our targets, we are shifting toward more resource- and energy-efficient products, and understanding and reducing supplier GHG emissions through stringent management and transparency requirements, goal-setting, supplier collaboration, and incentives for ongoing performance improvement. In our operations, we are improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions through behavioral or management changes, technology improvements and increasing our use of low-carbon, renewable energy, like solar and wind power.

How has working with World Wildlife Fund helped HP reach its climate goals?

HP worked with WWF specialists to develop a science-based target for Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions and a supply chain GHG emissions intensity reduction goal for Scope 3 emissions.  To support our suppliers’ efforts and our goals, HP worked with WWF and other NGOs to implement the Energy Efficiency Program (EEP) in China and Southeast Asia. The EEP helps participating suppliers reduce energy use, GHG emissions and costs by promoting energy efficiency programs and best practices and developing energy saving action plans targeting local efficiency improvements. Since 2010, more than 200 first-tier and sub-tier supplier sites have joined and benefited from EEP. To date, participants have saved a cumulative $73 million and more than 576 million kWh of electricity, contributing to the prevention of more than 940,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions from product manufacturing and transportation.

What actions would you like to see your industry adopt to curb climate change?

We believe there are two critical actions our industry must take immediately to help limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. First, we need to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy. As digitization expands across the globe, demand for energy is growing exponentially. As an industry, we must collectively shift from GHG-emitting fuels to low-carbon, renewable sources to both responsibly and adequately meet this demand. Second, we must promote the adoption of circular economy product design and business models. As an industry, it’s incumbent on us to use less and keep products and materials in their highest state of use for as long as possible. This includes making products that are less resource intensive, longer lasting, and easier to repair and recycle—as well as making products with recycled materials and shifting to service-based business models. We’re excited by the potential of new digital technologies, like IoT and 3D print, that are enabling revolutionary shifts in production and consumption that can dramatically reduce costs, waste and emissions across product lifecycles and global supply chains. By taking these actions together, we will make the 4th Industrial Revolution a Sustainability Revolution.

What advice do you have for companies just starting their climate journeys?

Both at the start and consistently along the journey, it is essential to identify the risk and opportunities that climate change presents to your business, and to put those into business terms so leadership can understand and act. Consider the impacts and costs that physical risks, like global temperature increases, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events (recall the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, for example), will have on your business and customers. But beyond physical risks, consider policy risks like cap and trade or a climate tax, and energy or fuel efficiency regulations, market risks such as shifting customer preferences and behaviors, and technology risks like misplaced investments or transition costs in energy sourcing or generation. Climate action can also present opportunities throughout your business and value chain, such as greater resource efficiency and product and service innovation. And, importantly, remember to look at both climate risks and opportunities through the lens of various stakeholder expectations—especially customers and investors—and the aspects of your business that can be leveraged, protected, or enhanced by adopting and pursuing climate action.

  • Date: 14 May 2018
  • Author: Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at WWF
Sheila Bonini (002)

In the United States and around the world, we’re facing conservation challenges that no one entity can manage alone. We’re emitting carbon that is warming our planet, we’re consuming far more than our Earth can replenish, and with each passing day our actions are threatening the biodiversity of our planet and all who call it home.

The good news is, we know the trouble we’re in, and we have the help of a major partner to address it – business.

Companies understand that putting stress on our environment is bad for business and are looking beyond their four walls to create impact. They know the path to sustainability will provide long-term profitability – from saving money by consuming less energy to reducing costs through cutting waste. And at the same time, they can help drive change at the scale and speed needed to achieve conservation efforts globally.

Businesses are a massive force. They have global access to governments and consumers, financial wherewithal and the ability to move quickly – particularly when it comes to the technologies that will help us minimize and prevent the greatest conservation hurdles that affect our environment. Companies are a cornerstone of innovation – building, testing and distributing solutions of the future at a rapid rate.

At World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we believe deeply in the private sector’s ability to drive positive environmental change. Over the past decade we have seen the impact of companies reducing their carbon footprints, and the paths they are paving to address conservation and climate issues from a variety of angles. But more needs to be done.

WWF works with companies to leverage their assets and their reach. We bring our expertise from the field and our experience building strategies with high-level stakeholders and work collaboratively with business partners to design and reach conservation goals. We push companies to engage their supply chains, shift the buying behavior of their consumers, raise awareness with their employees and influence stakeholders in governments and communities.

We know that a single company cannot influence an industry. It is vital that companies and conservation experts share best practices and trends across industries and audiences, and that’s what this blog is all about. WWF Sustainability Works is a forum for discussion around strategies, commitments, technologies and more that will help businesses achieve conservation goals that are good for the planet and their bottom lines.

Companies are a pillar of our conservation efforts. They understand the reality of the issues we face and are holding themselves accountable to be a part of the solution. Together, as we create better business practices, we will create a better Earth.

  • Date: 27 April 2018
  • Author: Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste

Food matters. When we waste food, we waste the energy, water and often wildlife habitat that was sacrificed to grow that food. Every bit of food we produce is precious and should be valued to its highest potential. WWF is working with Kroger on ZeroHungerZeroWaste, to help them achieve a zero waste future. We’ve seen time and again that what gets measured gets managed. We’re starting by identifying where food loss occurs within their business and beginning the journey to eliminate waste across the company by 2025.

Stop Food Waste Day is a perfect reminder that there’s much we can do to eliminate food waste in our own lives. Your own journey can begin with identifying and implementing and SHARING ways to reduce your own food waste every day.

In honor of Stop Food Waste Day, we’re excited to share this video and encourage YOU to share your ideas, tips and photos on how to cut waste with your friends and family on social media.

Be a #ZeroHero - join our fight against food waste and help WWF protect wildlife and their habitat.

 

  • Date: 27 April 2018
  • Author: Tess Lindsey Woodford, Redding, California

The kids are coming this weekend and I need to get out shopping.  Its been a tough week and, honestly, the last thing I want to do is shop.  In fact, I have taken to buying more online lately, not just for convenience sake, but also because of the wider selection of products I can choose from.  And these days, convenience seems to be everything, right? 

But the little voice inside my head always nudges me to shop local first and patronize the independent merchants whenever possible.  See, I’m like most consumers, I want the best price, to choose the best product from the largest selection, and still appease that part of my conscience that tells me to do the right thing.  I’ve always held the opinion that, while many things are out of my control, what I purchase, how I purchase, what I bring into my home, and put into my body, are made up of the choices that I make.   I want those choices to align with my value system for good health and what’s important to me.  And what’s important to me?   My children, grandchildren and their future here on Mother Earth. My family’s future is enough to keep me up at night. And it’s important enough to me to make me stop and shop more wisely and take the time to investigate the products I am looking to purchase. 

Social media sees to it that we are inundated with a lot of different claims, and sometimes it’s difficult to maneuver through the claims and know what’s factual.  We all know that saying it, or reading it, doesn’t necessarily make it so.  So, I do my research and work to make responsible choices and lead by example.  I take my own bottle with me instead of adding another plastic container to the landfills.  I recycle. I try to buy second-hand.  I shop supermarkets that offer organic options.  But there's one label that has made my decision making easier, the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) label . My research has told me that FSC’s existence is to assure me that these products and manufacturers are adhering to the standards that are important to me.  Whether its paper goods, lumber products, furniture or household goods, I don’t have to second guess and that appeases the little nudging voice inside my head.

I’m from a small town, and FSC choices aren’t always available to me.  I ask, and if not available, I reach further.   But the more I ask and consistently purchase locally, the more the retailers adhere to consumer demands.  I’m not going to wait for the politicians, I am going to effect change where I live, and for whom I love.  I do what I can and what is within my own reach.  It’s not a noisy and pushy campaign, but rather a quiet and personal selection.  I’m far from perfect.  I don’t drive an electric car, I don’t have solar panels on my house. But each day, I will continue to do my best within my means to make choices and buy products that work in harmony with the Earth.  Because if everyone does, things change.  And that’s a fact.

  • Date: 05 April 2018
  • Author: Monica McBride, Senior Program Officer for Food Waste at WWF

Every year, about 1.9 million conferences are hosted in the US, and around 250 million people attend them. You’ve probably been to one yourself. These 250 million eager conference-goers are fed at least one meal a day using the now standard method of delivering large amounts of food to large amounts of people in a short amount of time: the buffet. This style of food service is now the norm for large hotels and conference centers because it is easy, fast, and efficient for the kitchen staff.

But what may be a perceived efficiency in one respect, is inadvertently leading to a much greater inefficiency: food waste. Some food is over-prepared and left unconsumed on the buffet, while more is piled high and left on guests’ plates, neither of which is safe to be repurposed or donated and must be thrown away. All the money, labor, and energy that went into making that food also goes in the trash, and that is not efficient.  

The problem is a troublesome cycle of expectations. Chefs and hotel owners assume, often correctly, that clients and guests expect a never-ending abundance of food and want to provide the best possible customer experience. This leads to an “insurance” production and procurement model for events, which adds a little extra at each stage of the flow of food through the hotel. The meeting planner adds a few extra guests to cover possible late registrations, the sales staff adds another 3% to ensure they are not responsible for food shortages, and the chef adds a little more to guarantee the buffet never runs dry. The aim is for someone who visits the buffet ten minutes before the end to have the same choices as the first person through the line. By providing this experience of abundance, the hospitality industry continues to waste precious resources including the land, water, and wildlife habitat that were sacrificed to produce all this delicious food, not to mention millions of dollars from their bottom line in food, labor, and even waste hauling costs.

However, with some simple steps and an eye towards prevention, the hospitality industry could save millions, while also re-educating guests about the value of food and pushing other industries to account for the true cost (value) of food. World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) recent partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which focused on implementing food waste prevention strategies at ten hotel properties across the United States, proved small steps by dedicated staff can make a big impact. 

The tactics included training staff on food waste prevention techniques, redesigning menus, and incorporating new service and replenishment models to buffets. Did it work? Each of the ten properties saw at least a 15% reduction in food waste and 1-3% reductions in food costs over the course of just a four-month effort, showing it’s good for the bottom line.

Infographic Hotels FLW Business Case

Infographic taken from the Champions 12.3 report.

Champions 12.3 – the coalition dedicated to mobilizing action and tracking progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving global food loss and waste - also recently released a hospitality-focused business case for investing in food waste reduction. In their study, 42 hotels saw on average a 7:1 benefit-cost ratio from food waste reduction investments, plus a 20% decline in food waste. The business case for food waste prevention is clear – the average site in the study invested less than one percent of annual food sales in prevention activities and saw 7 times that amount in returns.

So, what’s the future of the buffet? Still abundant and delicious, but far more efficient using training, data, and improved communications along the flow of food.

How can you be part of that future? WWF developed a new platform called HotelKitchen.org. It contains an extensive toolkit for the hospitality industry that steps properties through establishing a Food Waste Task Force, developing a food waste prevention culture, and implementing waste reducing practices for buffets and banquets, along with a simple checklist, free training videos, and many additional resources.  

As of April 6th, WWF is expanding our hospitality food waste engagement globally, starting in Singapore where we are gathering participants from 6 of the larger hotel brands in the region along with partners from The Pacific Asia Transportation Association (PATA) and Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to discuss opportunities for food waste prevention, donation, and diversion at local and regional properties.  And we’ve got future convenings and workshops planned for Europe, South America, and China. Just like hanging your towel or declining daily room service is becoming an accepted norm, soon the wasteful buffet will be a thing of the past.

Hospitality is a global industry - wherever you may be located, if your property, brand or organization is interested in participating in future efforts, check out Hotel | Kitchen, sign-up and join the fight to reduce food waste. It’s good for the planet, and for your business.

  • Date: 22 March 2018
  • Author: John Marler, VP of Energy and Environment at AEG

This Saturday, March 24th at 8:30pm local time, millions of people and places around the world will turn out their lights in solidarity for the fight against climate change. This annual event, coined Earth Hour, is a time unite as a global community and re-commit to protecting our planet.

AEG, the global sports and entertainment company, is stepping up in a big way this Earth Hour. We caught up with John Marler, VP of Energy and Environment to ask how and why Earth Hour is a priority for AEG.

How is AEG participating in Earth Hour?

John Marler AEG

Each year our venues celebrate Earth Hour in a number of ways, from dimming lighting to engaging with guests and fans through Earth Hour-specific campaigns. This year we are taking it to the next level with our first ever AEG 1EARTH, AEG’s company-wide sustainability program, 2018 Earth Hour challenge, in which 20 of our most iconic venues worldwide will compete with one another to see who can conduct the most innovative and impactful Earth Hour campaign. AEG venues that are participating in this year’s competition include StubHub Center in Carson, CA, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY and International Convention Center, Sydney in Australia. Being that we are in the sports and entertainment industry, our venues are very competitive so we can’t wait to see the final results. We’ll be announcing a Gold, Silver, and Bronze winner the Monday after Earth Hour. Nothing like a little friendly competition!

Why does Earth Hour matter?

For me, it’s a very visible and tangible reminder of how grave the threat of climate change is to the things we take for granted, like lighting and other basic services. 

What are some ways AEG helps limit carbon emissions all year round? 

Reducing one’s carbon footprint is an “all of the above” endeavor. Almost 80% of our emissions are due to electric power usage, so we work hard to run our buildings more efficiently to minimize energy wastage. We also purchase renewable energy, both directly from suppliers and from on-site solar installations, and indirectly through renewable energy credits.

Eh pr

Join AEG and World Wildlife Fund in celebrating our planet this Earth Hour. Turn our your lights, join the conversation on social media using #EarthHour, or build out an event for your friends, family, or business.

  • Date: 20 March 2018
  • Author: Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste at WWF and Ron Cotterman, Vice President of Sustainability at Sealed Air

Globally, it is estimated that 35 percent of all consumable fish and seafood is wasted, and distribution and logistical challenges account for nearly 10 percent of supply chain losses. With one in nine people suffering from chronic undernourishment, and the demand for nutritious proteins on the rise, it's critical that we reduce waste.

At the recent Seafood Expo in Boston, Ron Cotterman, Vice President of Sustainability with Sealed Air Corporation, and Pete Pearson, Director of Food Waste with World Wildlife Fund, led a panel to discuss how each entity from sea to fork plays a role in preventing food loss and waste. After the panel, Ron and Pete kept talking about the issue, here’s a look at that conversation:

Pete at Seafood Expo

Ron: We know that waste occurs all along the food supply chain. Pete, you’ve led national sustainability programs within the retail grocery sector. What are some of the key opportunities for reducing waste at the retail level? 

Pete: Any time you have waste, it represents a design flaw. This was my first time attending the Boston Seafood Expo and it reaffirmed my observation that there is significant emphasis on merchandising and product marketing displays in the seafood industry. We need to get creative and drive seafood sales without fish spoiling over ice. With so many of our oceans fully exploited and some near the brink of collapse, the way we sell seafood has to change. There is loss and waste at all points in the supply chain. If we were to redesign our system with zero tolerance for loss and waste, retail presentation of seafood would probably look very different – different packages, lower temperatures and a re-education to consumers on what “fresh” really is.

Ron: That’s a good point. “Fresh” can mean different things depending on where you are in the world. In many parts of Asia, live fish or fish on ice are still very common, but this leads waste in retail and in homes. In the U.S., consumers generally prefer thawed versus frozen fish and seafood. Still, retailers often report throwing out an average of 5 to 20 percent of all products from refrigerated cases. Whatever the preference, packaging and lower temperatures can make a big difference in keeping food fresher for a longer period of time.

Pete: That’s important because when you lose or waste fish and seafood, we have to remember that we’re throwing away wildlife caught from the ocean. When talking about farmed seafood, it represents a waste of the energy, feed and resources that go into growing that product, in addition to all the transportation and refrigeration costs.

Ron: The good news is that we’re seeing a lot of innovations and technologies that are making a difference. Better temperature control, better traceability and better pacakging solutions are a part of that equation. One of the challenges though is communicating that to consumers. What is WWF doing to help educate consumers about food waste?

Pete: As a starting point, WWF’s campaign is about getting everyone, both businesses and consumers, to understand the implications of food loss and waste. Wildlife habitat and the health of fisheries are in jeopardy due to pressure from the food system. WWF is sponsoring research looking at consumer waste patterns and seafood loss and waste throughout the supply chain. Waste has to be measured to be managed and all actors in the system should consider making more data transparent so that everyone in the value chain can learn from each other. When we measure loss and waste, we begin to understand the benefits and trade-offs of shelf-life solutions like better packaging and temperature control.

Ron: So it’s not just saying “food waste is a problem,” it’s also showing people how they can help resolve it. And there are plenty of benefits to resolving it, including economic benefits. Champions 12.3 surveyed 2100 organizations and found that for every dollar invested in preventing food waste, there was a $14 return on investment. Whether in foodservice, retail or the consumer's home kitchen, there are opportunities to save.

Pete: If we continue to tolerate food loss and waste, we simply won’t have anything left for future generations and a growing affluent population. The cost of inaction to my children and grandchildren is extremely high. From an environmental perspective, we are reaching planetary boundaries. If we can show people there are wonderful ways to enjoy fish and seafood in a highly efficient, waste-free and sustainable way, that’s a win for everyone. We need to challenge our consumer definitions of “fresh” and begin measuring our progress towards a system that can deliver high quality products to retail and food service customers while eliminating waste at all levels of the supply chain.

Listen to the recording of Ron and Pete’s panel “Combating waste in the global fish and seafood supply chain” from Seafood Expo.

This blog was originally posted by Sealed Air.

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