Zero Waste - Environmental Defense Fund Supply Chain Solutions Center

Zero Waste

Waste is a product of inefficiency, and inefficiency is costly.

Attention to waste generated across the supply chain is growing. Simply put, waste is a product of inefficiency, and inefficiency produces environmental and business costs.

Every year, nearly half of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. The majority (85 percent) of this waste occurs downstream by the consumer, businesses, and homes. Current recovery efforts are unsupported and unable to prevent nearly all (95 percent) of the food waste that ends up in landfills and contributes to rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Like most foods, everyday items we consume come wrapped in packaging. This packaging, while intended to protect the product inside, contributes to one of the greatest environmental and health issues we face today: plastic pollution. It is estimated that only 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled properly, while the rest is sent to landfills or gets dispersed in the environment. Virgin packaging can also contain toxic chemicals, which can persist in the recycling stream and in the environment.

EDF and other NGO experts have collaborated to provide cross-cutting solutions and best practices for packaging and food waste prevention across supply chains. Many zero-waste strategies require engaging along the supply chain. Look through the categories below to find the solutions for your biggest waste challenges.

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Explore Zero Waste

Food Waste

Food waste includes any food substance lost or discarded across the supply chain. Learn more about the economic and environmental impacts of food waste and the innovative solutions companies around the world are implementing today.

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Learn more about the environmental, economic, and health impacts of packaging waste and the innovative solutions companies around the world are implementing today.

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The majority of environmental damage from packaging and food waste occur at disposal. Learn more about the simple and innovative solutions to reduce impacts at a product’s end-of-life.

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Product Design

Learn how product design flaws are a leading contributor to food and packaging waste across the supply chain and the innovation behind its improvements.

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Measuring & Reporting

New technologies and methodologies are making data collection, analysis and sharing simpler, faster and more effective. Learn how measuring and reporting is imperative to reducing waste across your supply chain.

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Stakeholder Engagement

Understanding the motivations of different groups involved in your supply chain is a challenge, but can go a long way when showing how your zero-waste goals are relevant and beneficial to them.

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Learn how progressive policy measures can provide the adequate infrastructure necessary for waste reduction across the supply chain.

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Business Case

Building the business case for your sustainability plan is a crucial step for creating internal buy-in and unlocking the necessary resources to implement your plan.

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Expert Organizations

Where are you on the sustainability journey?

When it comes to corporate sustainability, companies usually fall into three categories — beginner, “middle-miler” and leader. Our “Engage” section will help companies get informed on the issues, understand the landscape (both internally and externally) and start assessing areas of opportunity. Those who are in the middle miles of implementation — that nitty gritty period between setting a sustainability goal and achieving it — will find resources in our “Execute” section helpful. For the companies that are well on their way to meeting sustainability goals, our "Lead" section offers ways for companies to use their influence to engage proactively on policy and to encourage others to step up.

Zero Waste Resources

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Main Library

Zero Waste Resources

Looking for solutions that are uniquely relevant to you and your company? Here you can filter by resource title, date, type. Below (left) you can filter by narrowing categories and sub-categories, as well as where each resource sits within different levels of the sustainability journey.

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The business case for sustainable e-commerce

How people shop is changing. Creating a transparent online marketplace that offers safe and sustainable products is critical.



10-step food waste reduction toolkit

Useful takeaways and examples to help retailers take their food waste work to the next level.



Carbon credit guidance for buyers

Learn about the six quality objectives that buyers can use to ensure they are purchasing high quality carbon credits.



How to recycle light bulbs that contain mercury

EPA's recommendations for disposing of light bulbs and other household hazardous wastes.



Testing for contaminants in food, food packaging

EDF has identified a top-ten list of chemicals of concern in food packaging and food handling equipment where the potential health impacts from their migration into food raises serious concerns.



Testing for PFAS: general recommendations

Guidance on why and how companies should test for PFAS, a chemical contaminant found in food and food packaging.



Testing for PFAS: food packaging

Learn more about how to test for this chemical contaminant found in food packaging.



Testing for o-phthalates: general recommendations

Guidance on why and how companies should test for ortho-phthalates, a family of chemical contaminants found in food and food packaging.



Testing for o-phthalates: food contact materials

Learn more about how to test for this chemical contaminant found in food contact materials.



Testing for heavy metals: general recommendations

Guidance on why and how companies should test for heavy metals, a chemical contaminant found in food and food packaging.



Testing for heavy metals: food packaging

Learn more about how to test for this chemical contaminant found in food packaging.



Safer product innovation: ChemFORWARD

The lack of comprehensive, transparent, and comparable hazard information for chemicals and their alternatives is a major obstacle to safer ingredient innovation. Join EDF and ChemFORWARD for a webinar on a promising solution to this obstacle.



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