World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works

  • Date: 20 July 2021
  • Author: Leigh Prezkop, Food Loss and Waste Specialist, WWF

Grower Adoption of a Food Loss Metric is Key to Reducing Specialty Crop Loss

By now, people have started to realize that food waste is a pretty big issue. We know millions of tons of food in the US are being wasted in food service, retail, and our own kitchens. A lesser known, and often not as well measured, part of the issue happens on farms due to drivers and decisions made throughout the whole supply chain. In fact, new research out of WWF-UK shows that as much as 1.2B tons of food is lost on farms during, around, and after harvest. This is equivalent to about 15% of all food produced.

For the last several years, through WWF’s No Food Left Behind initiative, we have been working closely with specialty crop farmers and other partners to examine how loss of certain crops is measured on farms and what drives that loss. The reality is that loss is not measured consistently or transparently for fruit and vegetables, which makes it challenging to understand why it’s happening or how it can better be avoided. There’s a complex web of factors that drive this loss. Market structures that separate farmers from buyers, retail specifications, labor shortages, unpredictability of weather events, market dynamics, and inflexible, short-term contracts are all contributing factors.

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  • Date: 15 July 2021

Plastic pollution is rapidly becoming one of the most devastating issues facing our planet – yet despite this growing crisis, plastic plays a vital role in our society. From keeping our food fresh to supporting life-saving medical devices, plastic is deeply imbedded in many of our essential services. Getting rid of it is not an option, nor should it be the goal.

Even in a circular economy that maximizes the reuse, recovery, and recycling of all plastic, some virgin plastic will still be necessary because no material is capable of infinite recycling without losses to quality and quantity. Many industries will continue to require virgin plastic to maintain health and safety standards.

To truly curb the plastic pollution crisis, we must therefore adopt a multifaceted approach – one in which we not only push for the transition to a circular system, but also utilize renewable and responsibly sourced feedstocks to replenish essential lost material. While currently 99% of new plastics are made from harmful fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, an emerging plant-based plastic market could provide a more sustainable alternative. Plant-based plastics – made from seaweed, sugar beet and other plants – can serve a strong complementary role to a circular economy while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

However, to yield true positive impacts, plant-based materials must be responsibly sourced and managed. That’s why World Wildlife Fund initiated the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) in 2013, convening some of the world’s leading consumer brands to advance our knowledge of plant-based plastics and to explore the potential environmental and social impacts of these materials. With much still unknown, one thing is clear: the solution must not exacerbate the problem.

The BFA is therefore calling on policy makers to ensure any future policy on plastic alternatives is grounded in science. In the race to realize a circular economy, plant-based plastics will be key – however policies should require sustainability metrics be used to evaluate their production and sourcing, looking at environmental indicators such as water use, carbon emissions, and impacts on communities and wildlife. Not only will this approach guarantee plant-based plastics remain responsibly managed, but it will incentivize continuous improvement that ultimately leads to the lowest environmental impact.

Achieving a circular plastic system will require bold and innovative solutions – yet choosing the right solutions will involve navigating complex tradeoffs. New policies in the plant-based plastics space must be based on credible sustainability science to maximize positive environmental impacts. Only then can we transition to a more circular plastic system, one that benefits both people and the planet.

You can read the BFA’s full Call for Science-Based Policy on Plastic Alternatives here.

The Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance provides thought leadership on the responsible sourcing of bioplastics, and the role of bioplastic in circular systems. The BFA explores the latest science to advance knowledge of bioplastics and their social and environmental impacts. The BFA aims to ensure bioplastics ultimately contribute to a more sustainable flow of materials, to create lasting value for present and future generations. Visit https://bioplasticfeedstockalliance.org/ for more information.

  • Date: 14 July 2021
  • Author: Christa Anderson and Martha Stevenson, World Wildlife Fund

Nature-Based Solutions in Science-Based Targets

Many companies strive to include Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in their climate strategies within the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).1 When done right, NBS for climate mitigation are a genuine win-win. Companies deliver on their climate goals and simultaneously support nature and address societal challenges. Here we provide a brief outline of how NBS fit into Science-Based Targets and what’s coming soon.

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  • Date: 13 July 2021
  • Author: Karla Canavan, VP, Commodity Trade and Finance, Katherine Devine, Director of Business Case Development, WWF

Before net-zero commitments became all the rage, companies were pledging to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains. Deforestation and habitat conversion are powerful contributors to climate change, accounting for about 15% or more of global GHG emissions. Despite increasing numbers of commitments and a decade of effort in some cases, companies have struggled to achieve them. It’s not surprising; there are many complex issues in supply chains that could contribute to deforestation and conversion. These range from multiple direct and indirect suppliers, lack of traceability, lack of government support, fluctuating market forces—such as increasing global demand from China, and more. Nevertheless, addressing the challenge of taking deforestation and conversion out of global supply chains (Deforestation- and Conversion-Free, or DCF) can not wait.

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  • Date: 12 July 2021
  • Author: Monica McBride, Director, Agricultural and Environmental Metrics, WWF

Feeding animals, particularly those on farms, with food scraps or waste is an age-old practice. In fact, 30% of what’s fed to livestock around the world today is either waste from food supply chains or by-products from growing and processing food. In the US, about 10% of surplus food is already being sent to feed animals, most coming from manufacturing or grocery stores.

But there’s another 14.7 million tons of food waste in the US that could be safely used for animal feed, instead of going to landfills where it produces methane emissions that intensify climate change. More circular systems that repurpose nutrients for feed can also help to reduce other major environmental impacts of producing feed crops like land, energy, and water use, while bolstering food security.

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  • Date: 01 July 2021
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director of Business Case Development, WWF

COVID-19 has led to a home purchasing boom due to low interest rates, with many choosing to move to suburban areas and take advantage of the opportunity to have more space while working from home. For many who were fortunate to shift their jobs to work remotely, the time may have enabled a re-orienting of how time outside of work is spent, with reduced commutes, greater focus on family and hobbies, an acceleration of online shopping habits and home cooking, as well as other changes. Not all changes will stick, but with a significant portion of the population (20-25% for 3-5 days a week, according to McKinsey) likely to have either fully remote or partially remote work options, can that shift also enable more sustainable use of stranded assets?

Not all employees are able or want to work at home full time. Different work styles, home office setups, equipment, high speed internet, or even desire and preference to socialize with coworkers may mean blended models of partial remote work will become more prominent. Furthermore, childcare has proven to be a challenge for working families, leading to an unprecedented exodus of (primarily) women from the workforce. Repercussions of this shift will likely impact the workforce for years to come. While some challenges will be mitigated, for example as vaccines allow schools to reopen, others remain. What if abandoned or underutilized shopping malls in suburban areas could be revitalized to meet several of these needs?

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  • Date: 30 June 2021
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director of Business Case Development, Markets Institute, WWF

COVID-19 transformed urban spaces from bustling city centers to deserted concrete landscapes. While downtowns may soon return to greater normalcy, it is likely that many aspects of office culture will change. Some companies, such as Twitter and Zillow, have declared that employees can choose to work remotely indefinitely, and more organizations will follow suit either with fully remote work or blended models. This may well lead to a massive transformation of office culture, amenities, and the makeup of city centers and suburban office parks. But how can these changes be leveraged to enable a more sustainable food system?

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  • Date: 29 June 2021
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director of Business Case Development, Markets Institute, WWF

COVID-19 represents an opportunity to rethink conventional business models. We saw struggling restaurants get creative to stay afloat, with solutions ranging from innovative delivery menus to sales of pantry items. While many of these solutions may have served as temporary fixes during an unprecedented difficult time, others will continue, and they speak to the ingenuity required to drive businesses forward in times of challenge.

With many hotels at limited capacity due to restrictions from COVID-19, as well as limited travel, hotel rooms aren’t the only underutilized asset. Most hotels also offer food in the form of complimentary breakfast, or more robust dining services. With far fewer travelers, much of that kitchen and cold storage space is – or was – not being fully utilized. The same could be said of other venues, such as convention centers and stadiums, which largely lay dormant while crowds were unable to gather en masse. Although many of these resources are now open, there are off-times between events when storage could be used for other purposes, and we can use this moment to consider business models holistically to prepare for future disruptions.

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  • Date: 28 June 2021
  • Author: Katherine Devine, Director of Business Case Development, WWF

The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to shape the future of food systems for many years to come. The question, though, is how? While many countries and businesses are still in or emerging from survival mode, others have the resources to invest in a food system future with sustainability at its core. The reality is that you cannot separate the two—sustainability will enable survival for companies moving forward. It’s been said that COVID-19 is a dress rehearsal for future disruptions, particularly those related to climate change. Now is the time to prepare for what comes next.

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  • Date: 23 June 2021

Images of plastic waste washing up on beaches, suffocating wildlife and polluting our communities have become far too commonplace. A global spotlight has been shining on this problem for years, but we need more large-scale, transformative actions to get us to where we need to be.

The U.S. is no exception when it comes to struggling to implement solutions that can address the plastic waste crisis at its core. But we cannot let that struggle slow our ambition – it’s time to take a collective look at how we’ve mismanaged plastic and begin to reimagine our nation’s relationship with this resource.

To help facilitate this process, WWF launched OneSource Coalition, a group of ambitious companies, environmental organizations, and industry leaders, who together will pave the path for a future where plastic waste is responsibly managed and our products and/or packaging are responsibly recycled and reused.

As a coalition, we are advocating for a holistic approach to public policy that can enable the implementation of an efficient, effective, and fair waste management system in the U.S. We are calling on U.S. policymakers to advance policies in three key areas: environmental justice, extended producer responsibility (EPR), and international leadership.

Together, we are ready to strengthen the plastic recycling system.

Here is what some of our Coalition members had to say:

“America’s beverage companies commend WWF’s bold leadership as it launches the OneSource Coalition. We are proud to stand with a diverse, committed group of stakeholders leading sustainable solutions to address plastic waste in the environment. Together, we can drive real impact by advancing policies to optimize the collection of our valuable, recyclable bottles and cans, reduce our plastic footprint, and create a true circular economy.” - Katherine Lugar, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Beverage Association

“Since its founding, Closed Loop Partners has invested in and accelerated solutions that help address the global plastics waste challenge. We know that to build a strong, vibrant circular economy for plastics and advance system-wide impact, collaborating with diverse stakeholders is critical. We are proud to join many leading organizations and brands in the OneSource Coalition, amplifying the call for policies that support our collective work to ensure plastics are integrated into the circular economy––never going to waste in landfills or our natural environment.” - Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners

“The OneSource Coalition is a powerful signal to policymakers that stakeholders are ready to see the U.S. become a leader in tackling the plastic pollution crisis and transitioning to a more circular and just economy.” - Erin McCluskey, Managing Director, Ocean Plastics Leadership Network

“As an organization working to solve the climate crisis both through our members’ own practices and by driving science-based U.S. policy action, we are proud to join the OneSource Coalition. Through this coalition, we will continue to advance policies to improve the environment and to implement a national producer responsibility program in the United States. These policies are integral to making the end-to-end system changes that will truly transform our waste management system into a circular economy.” - Sustainable Food Policy Alliance (SFPA)

"The potential for innovation through inspiration from nature is as great as the risk we face by ignoring nature's signals. We want to help unlock that innovation." - Nina Butler, Stina Inc.

“The Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company is steadfast in our commitment to help solve the plastic waste crisis, and we understand we can’t fight this battle alone. Joining the WWF OneSource Coalition with other ambitious organizations and industry leaders will help us make a deeper impact in effectively managing waste and ensuring our products are responsibly recycled and reused.” - Alpa Sutaria, General Manager Sustainability, The Coca-Cola Company

“The Ocean Foundation is proud to participate in The OneSource Coalition as we work to shift plastic production towards a design that embraces the circular economy, makes producers responsible as well as consumers, and plans for a just and equitable transition as we integrate these solutions globally.” - Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation

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