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.

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.

View All Packaging Resources


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.

View All End-of-Life Resources

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.

View All Measuring & Reporting Resources

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.

View All Stakeholder Engagement Resources


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

View All Policy Resources

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.

View All Business Case Resources

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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Toxic chemicals can enter food through packaging

EDF made a list of the specific chemicals that your company needs to target to achieve sustainability goals and protect consumer health.



How companies can approach clean food packaging

EDF has identified five key steps to consider for achieving better food packaging.



New guidelines for chemical use in food packaging

New guidelines developed for packaging suppliers and producers on both quality issues and opportunities to minimize or eliminate chemicals or concern in food packaging.



One step closer to safer beauty products

Learn how Walmart and Target brought together stakeholders from across the U.S. beauty industry in 2014 to drive safer, more sustainable products through innovative product design.



GreenBlue: sustainable materials management

GreenBlue looks at material sourcing, material health, and material value to achieve sustainable materials management.



Design for Recycled Content Guide

A guide supporting brands and suppliers who are looking to incorporate recycled content in packaging.



Project Gigaton resources: packaging

A collection of resources on sustainable packaging. This page was curated with companies engaged with Walmart's Project Gigaton initiative, but these resources may be helpful to anyone interested in the topic.



Project Gigaton resources: waste

A collection of resources on reducing waste. This page was curated with companies engaged with Walmart's Project Gigaton initiative, but these resources may be helpful to anyone interested in the topic.



Sustainable product design resources

Resources about eco-friendly product design considerations.



The Sustainability Journey

Get your company started on the sustainability journey here! From overviews and introductions to advocating for policy, and everything in between, this is where you should start.



Food waste 101: introduction

As much as 63 million tons of food is wasted in the U.S. each year. 52 million tons are sent to the landfill and 10 million tons are discarded or left unharvested, generating as much CO2 emissions as 212 million cars.



Food waste 101: get informed

Gaining an understanding of the issues surrounding food waste is the first step in mitigating it.



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