Waste and Recovery

Our commitment: Reduce food loss and waste


The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that almost one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. This waste has a tangible social, environmental and economic cost – producing it uses 24% ( World Resources Institute (WRI) of all agriculture-related water, causes 8% of all human-created greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and costs consumers, farmers and businesses up to CHF 950 billion annually. We are committed to helping reduce food loss and waste.

Food waste

In 2016 Paul Bulcke joined Champions 12.3: a coalition of government, industry and non-governmental organisation (NGO) influencers dedicated to accelerating progress towards halving food waste by 2030. This will enable us to contribute to a circular economy and allow us to secure our agricultural supplies while having a positive impact on society. As a company, we have guided the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to adopt the public resolution of halving food waste from its members’ own operations by 2025, five years ahead of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3.

We actively contributed to the development of the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard led by the WRI. We participated in its launch at the Global Green Growth Forum in June 2016. We have piloted the standard in our dairy supply chain in Pakistan, and, to encourage its broader use, we ran a training workshop at the first CGF Sustainability Summit together with the WRI in October 2016.

Our Zero Food Wastage Taskforce leads waste reduction initiatives across our value chain. Following on from the 2015 launch of our commitment to reduce food loss and waste, the Taskforce has developed and updated an operational master plan to monitor progress. The Taskforce also launched the Food Waste Toolkit, designed to share and promote activities to reduce food loss and waste along our value chain and raise awareness on the issue.

Our objective towards 2020

Ongoing: As a member of Champions 12.3, accelerate progress towards halving food waste by 2030.

By 2020: Make date labels understandable to our consumers in order to reduce food waste at consumption stage.

Zero waste for disposal

We look to achieve our target of zero waste for disposal through a series of objectives designed to prevent waste generation. Our resource-efficiency approach enables us to avoid food wastage and get the most out of materials, either through energy recovery or using our by-products in new ways, where we can.

We define waste for disposal as any material that leaves a location we manage for disposal, with no economic or ecological value. By the end of 2016, 182 of our factories (33%) achieved zero waste for disposal. Our aim is to ensure that all of our operations achieve zero waste for disposal by 2020; since 2006, we’ve reduced waste by 36% (105 000 tonnes), and disposal per tonne of product has fallen to 82%. In 2016, 94% of our waste went to landfill, 4% to incineration without energy recovery and 2% was disposed of through other methods.

Using best practice from those markets where we do have sites with zero waste for disposal, we have developed a Zero Waste for Disposal Guideline. Only 0.60% of the waste we generate is classified as hazardous, and is managed and disposed of in accordance with local and global standards and regulations as appropriate.


By-products are materials that leave our sites and are reused or recovered, including recycling, composting and incineration with energy recovery. In 2016, we recovered 94% of the materials used in manufacturing. We analyse the waste and by-products we generate through manufacturing to identify best practices and opportunities that can be shared across markets.

Our objectives towards 2020

By 2020: Achieve zero waste for disposal in our sites.

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