Skip to main content
Close Menu

waste reduction

  • The amount of waste that can be created at all stages in the food value chain cannot be underestimated. We’re doing some deep self-reflection to find ways to reduce waste and maintain the longevity and economic value of the materials we use. After all, excessive waste is a sign of inefficiencies in our system.

How is this better for all?


    Creating less waste means even better, safer working conditions for our people.


    Keeping food waste out of landfills means there’s another meal to feed our communities, increasing food access and food security.


    Creating less waste has a direct benefit of preserving the planet’s resources, reducing world hunger, and doing our part to mitigate climate change. 

Our Approach

We will continue diverting waste from landfill, and reducing waste before it even happens, to meet our goals. Knowing the cause of waste can help us mitigate it at the source, and minimize future waste.

We have made traction in our overall waste reduction efforts, but we are still evaluating how our packaging contributes to our holistic waste footprint. We are at the beginning of our journey, but need to remember that not all packaging is inherently bad. We rely on it for food safety, quality assurance, and ease of transport. 


  • We started with an audit of a sampling of our distribution centers to figure out the exact materials that make up the packaging we use in everyday operations – looking at everything from pallets to protective coverings. With the results of that audit in hand, we can work on improving year-over-year by mitigating virgin cardboard and plastic, reducing and reusing materials, recycling and composting, and finally treating and disposing of waste as a last resort.

    We started this work in our distribution centers and are now also looking downstream to further amplify our efforts. As part of our Professional Services offerings, customers can take advantage of new food waste and shrink reduction technologies that precisely monitor metrics, such as storage temperature, serving sizes, and more.

In addition to our operational waste and packaging choices, food waste continues to be an industry-wide problem. Sending expired or damaged product to the landfill is no one’s idea of success – it hits our bottom line, contributes to climate change, and hinders our communities’ access to food. We’ve set reduction goals and are working with stellar partners to reduce food waste along our value chain.

  • Our waste audit found that most of our food waste happened as a result of damage to products inside our warehouses, so we’re working to divert damaged goods from landfill to reduce wasted food. 


Recent Progress

We completed a waste audit in 2022, which gives us more insight into the kinds of materials we’re using, as well as how we can reduce (and ultimately limit) waste, increase recycling and composting, and effectively treat and dispose of waste as a last resort.

Cub Foods workers filling boxes with food

Cub Foods Food Rescue

At every one of our Cub Foods stores, team members keep a vigilant eye out for the products that we can no longer sell yet are still in great condition to be eaten. Cub partners with Second Harvest Heartland and their local food bank affiliates to pick up these products – from turkeys to apples – and distribute them multiple times per week.

UNFI Workers in front of trash disposal unit

Food Loss & Waste 2030 Champions

We are proud to be part of this group of organizations in the United States that have made similar public commitments to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations.

EDF Clip from publication

Food Waste Fellowship

In 2022, we hosted a first-of-its-kind Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and ReFED partnership Food Waste summer fellow who helped do a deep dive into our existing waste and recycling programs, and analyzed opportunities for improvement.