There are various ways to make a business and society more sustainable, and one of these is minimizing waste.

In late September, a group of the world’s leading retailers announced that nearly 200 of their major suppliers had committed to reduce waste and food loss through a new initiative called 10x20x30. The companies intend to reduce food waste in their organizations by 50%.

“The environmental, business and moral case for tackling food waste is undeniable,” commented Dave Lewis, member of 10x20x30, group executive of supermarket chain Tesco, and chair of Champions 12.3, a voluntary coalition dedicated to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3.

Reducing waste is nothing new but rooting it out where it occurs, bit by bit, can have a significant impact.

Tesco, for example, was the first retailer to use the Champions 12.3 Target Measure Act approach with its suppliers, inviting 27 suppliers back in 2017 to participate. Now, 71 of the retailer’s suppliers publish data on their food loss and waste.

Their collective reduction efforts have contributed to the U.K.’s announcement this year that the it had reduced its food loss and waste by 27% since it began measuring wasted food in 2007, making it the first nation in the world to surpass the halfway mark towards SDG Target 12.3 of a 50% food waste reduction.

Global approach

What is important about 10x20x30, however, is its international dimension, with retailers from across continents participating. Those companies signed up to the 50% waste reduction commitment operate in more than 80 countries.

A number of well-known suppliers are taking part in the program, including: Astral Foods, Cargill, Cranswick, Hormel Foods, Noble Foods, and Smithfield Foods, among others.

According to Walmart Senior Vice-President of Sustainability Jane Ewing: “Cutting food waste in half – from farm to fork – by 2030 will require ambitious, collective action. The 10x20x30 initiative is accelerating progress by aligning and training stakeholders across the industry on how to dramatically reduce food waste”.

It’s worth remembering that, each year, one third of all food produced in the world is lost of wasted. This results in significant economic, environmental and food security impacts. The amount lost is worth US$940 billion annually, and responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Illustrating how change can be made, September also saw U.K. pork and poultry producer Cranswick announce that it had already surpassed its Champions 12.3 target, achieving a 61% reduction in edible food across its business in under three years. The reduction represents the elimination of over 4,261 metric tons of food waste meaning that waste now accounts for only 0.4% of its food produced.

Chris Aldersley, Cranswick chief operating officer, commented: “Beating the Champions 12.3 target on food waste substantially gives us confidence that zero edible food waste is achievable”.