The Walmart Foundation has established a $1.87 million fund to provide financial backing for proposals from non-profit organizations working to reduce food waste. Walmart’s corporate philanthropy arm says it will consider requests between $250,000 and $1 million.
Applications in three key areas will be considered:
- Addressing food loss and waste from farm to consumer, through increased knowledge of the causes of food loss on farms or during processing;
- Increasing capacity in the charitable food system, such as increasing the ability to recover and distribute food to those in need, particularly in rural areas and for under-served populations;
- Optimizing and/or developing organic recycling solutions
The Walmart Foundation calls food waste an “urgent” global issue. According to the United Nations Environment Program, about one-third of the food produced for human consumption each year – approximately 1.3 billion tons – is either lost or wasted.
A 2014 report from Value Chain Management International pegs the cost of food waste in Canada at $31 billion. However, the report notes the actual figure is much higher since it purposely omits waste from sources such as hospitals, prisons and schools, as well as the travel industry (the report notes the cruise industry is responsible for the highest per capita waste) because of a lack of quantifiable data.
Walmart has made waste reduction a key priority, pledging to achieve zero waste in key markets, including Canada, by 2025. According to its Global Responsibility Report, the retail giant has diverted more than three-quarters (77%) of its waste from unsold food, unsold products and materials, from landfills through initiatives including food donations, product repurposing and composting.
Walmart Canada claims it diverts 81% of its operational waste through programs that divert more than one dozen waste streams from landfill. Initiatives include selling food approaching its best-before date at a discounted price as part of its “Customer Value Program,” and donating more than 5 million pounds of food to food banks across the country, part of a commitment to provide 4 billion meals globally.
More than 240 Canadian Walmart stores divert organic waste away from municipal landfills through either composting or anaerobic digestion, and the company also works with suppliers to improve packaging and food handling processes to better maintain quality and freshness.