News Sustainability Collaborating to Crack U.S. Food Waste

Collaborating to Crack U.S. Food Waste

Eggs are on my grocery list every week. And, like most shoppers, I open the carton to peek for broken eggs before I place it in my cart. It’s a habit I learned as a child shopping with my parents, and I do it without even thinking about it.

A male associate stocks eggs

Until recently, regulations wouldn’t allow grocers to consolidate cartons if one or more eggs were broken — so the entire carton would end up in the trash. Walmart was concerned about this waste and did not want to compromise food safety, so we worked with regulators to establish a simple, safe process to remove only the broken eggs and consolidate the undamaged eggs into whole cartons. As a result, just last year we prevented 37 million eggs from being thrown away. This has been a team effort and is working well thanks to the leadership of Roger Snelgrove, Adam Bradley and Dan Engdahl from Walmart’s merchant team, and the continued stewardship of Walmart egg buyer Zach Aho, and waste and recycling manager Kate Worley.

A male associate carries cartons of eggs to the dairy section

Reducing waste is a priority for Walmart, and food waste is an important area of focus. In the U.S., more than one-third of edible food ends up discarded. Food loss occurs at all points throughout the supply chain from the farm to your table, and it takes a collective effort to reduce the amount of food wasted. As the world’s largest grocer, Walmart is doing its part to affect change.

Working toward our corporate sustainability goal of zero waste, we have made changes in our own operations and have influenced changes in our supply chain. In the U.S., Walmart has diverted just over 82% of the materials that flow through our facilities.

We’ve been able to reduce food waste in our operations by doing things like consolidating egg lots or diverting peaches that do not meet Walmart’s specs for the produce bins to suppliers that make jams and jellies. We also work with several organizations to recycle our inedible food waste into animal feed, compost or energy through anaerobic digestion.

A wide shot of the fresh produce section

If more retailers and food suppliers take similar steps, we can make a dent in overall food waste. That’s why we, along with Sodexho and Feeding America, have been working with ReFED, a collaboration of more than 30 business, nonprofit and government leaders committed to reducing U.S. food waste by up to 50% by 2030. ReFED recently released the Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, the first-ever national economic study of food waste to provide a guide for action. Retailers and food companies can take steps to improve inventory management and prevent spoilage throughout the supply chain. The first step is to start tracking and measuring waste because you have to know where you stand before you can map your plan for reduction.

We learned that lesson with eggs and have applied it to many other food items. So, the next time you’re picking up eggs at Walmart, know that you’re an important part of the cycle to help reduce food waste, which saves money and reduces environmental impact. And we thank you for your contributions!