Fight waste, recycle and reuse: Toward the circular economy
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WHY IT MATTERS
One-third of the world’s food production goes into the trash2. That’s unacceptable, especially when you consider that in 2019, 690 million people around the globe went hungry2— a figure that’s likely to rise significantly due to Covid-193. And the cost of food waste is high for the planet, for taxpayers, for farmers and for consumers. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts the total price at $2.6 trillion per year, equal to the GDP of the United Kingdom.
In response to this absurd state of affairs, a resistance movement has begun to build, and the Covid-19 crisis has added fuel to the fire. As food goes undistributed, images of dump trucks filled with rotting produce have contrasted harshly with scenes of communities hit even harder by poverty and malnutrition. The task now is to translate indignation into action across the entire food chain—from farmers to food companies to distributors to consumers.
1 Report: Save Food for a Better Climate, 2017, FAO, 2017
2 Report: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, United Nations, July 2020
3 The World Food Program (WFP) predicts that 265 million people will face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, up 130 million over 2019.
Packaging is— and will remain— critical to protecting and transporting foods and beverages. But what happens to it afterwards is a growing threat to the environment. Worldwide, around 85% of used plastics are not recycled, and a significant portion of this waste— some 11 million metric tons a year— goes into our oceans4. The challenge is twofold: design greener, less resource-intensive packaging and, simultaneously, create systems to sort, collect and recycle waste. In short, we need to promote a circular packaging economy by taking action across the board, from adopting the right regulations to changing behaviors to building a viable recycling economy.
4 Breaking the Plastic Wave, The Pew Charitable Trust, 2020
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Innovating to reduce food waste
At Danone, we’re determined to fight food waste, both to live up to our values and to meet our commitment to more responsible, more sustainable production and consumption patterns that benefit people and the planet. Because most food waste happens before or after our own operations, we’re working especially hard to get all the players in our value chain involved.
- In 2015, we committed to reducing unrecovered food waste by 50% between 2016 and 2025.
- In 2020, we stepped up our engagement by committing to achieve SDG 12.3—reducing food waste within our operations and supply chain by half by 2030.
- We’ve also committed to redistribute surplus food to food banks, food relief organizations and other specialized charities to support vulnerable communities, strengthening our work with these organizations through an agreement with the Global FoodBanking Network.
- We’re harnessing innovation to optimize use of surplus food in our supplier relations, production process and products.
New partners in the fight against waste
Two Good: Rescuing California lemons
Saving strawberries with Operation Zero Waste
Accelerating the transition to circular packaging
In 2018 we made a commitment to advance the transition from the linear packaging economy to a circular one, and in 2020 we took new steps towards meeting this environmental challenge. These included the “WeActForWater” initiative, launched by our Waters business. Our goal is to make our packaging 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
- Design our packaging to be circular: eliminate unnecessary packaging and design every package to be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable.
- Help develop efficient, inclusive systems to expand collection and recycling capacity.
- Preserve natural resources by using 50% recycled material in all packaging and our plastic packaging in particular. We have also committed to using 100% recycled PET in Europe for the Waters division by 2025.