CSR Initiatives Cut Food Waste by 40% in Major Retail Chains

May 23, 2024

How CSR Practices Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts have led to a significant 40% reduction in food waste, showcasing the transformative impact of sustainable practices in major retail chains. In this exclusive interview, Alice Vachet, a CSR impact contractor and the eco-friendly podcaster behind “L’Empreinte,” shares her insights on the journey and future of CSR in retail.

What inspired your transition from digital communications to sustainability and CSR?

It all started when I was confronted with a massive issue of food waste in my previous job. This experience opened my eyes to the importance of sustainability, and I realized it was a subject I could no longer ignore. At the time, I was working on digital issues, not sustainability. This led me to join, the CSR department alongside Bertrand Swiderski. Together, we built something meaningful. Transitioning to CSR in a large organization was challenging, but we managed. My role eventually evolved to split between digital communications and CSR, making my work incredibly fulfilling.

Can you share a pivotal moment that influenced your commitment to CSR?

The issue of food waste in retail was a significant turning point. I’ve always been environmentally conscious, even if I didn’t label it as such. My lifestyle and values naturally aligned with sustainability principles. My awareness deepened during my time at Carrefour, which was doing a lot in terms of CSR but not communicating it. Bertrand Swiderski preferred action over publicity. My role became about bridging this communication gap, ensuring transparency without making it seem like a marketing ploy.

On a personal note, do you have any initiatives in mind?

I run a podcast called L’Empreinte, where I interview CEOs from major companies. While I don’t want to single out any particular initiative, I believe true ecological progress requires open sharing of such innovations. There’s no room for competition in sustainability; it’s about collective progress. With over 200 episodes, there are countless examples, but the essence remains the same: fostering open, sustainable practices.

How did the podcast come about?

L’Empreinte was co-created with Bababam Studios. Pierre Orlac’h , the founder, approached me with the idea of a brand-focused podcast. He gave me complete creative freedom, allowing me to shift the focus to social and environmental issues. This approach resonated well, leading to a decade-long journey. It’s a unique space where we can discuss brand actions candidly, avoiding greenwashing and addressing real issues.

How do you adapt your message for an event like SIAL?

At events like SIAL, I focus on issues relevant to the audience, such as food waste, pesticides, and sustainable packaging. It’s about addressing how we can consume better, support local agriculture, and ensure access to organic food. The food sector is crucial because it directly impacts our lives, yet it often gets overlooked in terms of spending priorities.

What are the most urgent sustainable development challenges facing the food industry?

Reducing pesticide use, supporting organic farming, and making sustainable food more accessible are top priorities. It’s crucial to address these issues comprehensively, ensuring that responsible food consumption becomes central to our values.

How can events like SIAL help advance sustainable practices in the food sector?

SIAL is a hub of food innovation. It showcases brands investing in sustainable practices and highlights how major players can support startups. Events like these are essential for accelerating the transition to responsible agriculture and consumption, reaching wider audiences, and fostering investment in sustainable innovations.

What role do you see for collaboration in achieving sustainable development goals?

Collaboration between producers, consumers, and regulators is vital. Everyone in the ecosystem, from field to plate, must contribute. It’s not just up to brands or consumers; it’s a collective effort. Businesses, especially large ones, need to invest in this transition. Regulations will follow, making responsible choices more accessible. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation where everyone must play their part.

Can you give some concrete examples to illustrate your points?

Initiatives like delivering surplus food to consumers at lower prices are great, though challenges remain in broader accessibility. Innovations such as bottle deposits and reduced packaging are also important. While there’s always room for more, these steps show significant progress. Events like SIAL allow us to discover and discuss these innovations, pushing us further towards a sustainable future.

What can we expect from your participation in the SIAL round table?

The round table will focus on CSR and ESG issues, moderated in English. It’s about discussing how to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and inclusive food system. I aim to foster open dialogue, highlight successes, and address challenges. It’s about collaboration, sharing best practices, and driving collective action towards sustainability.

Any final thoughts on the role of collaboration in CSR?

Collaboration is key in CSR. It’s not about competition but about working together to tackle social and environmental challenges. By sharing successes and addressing difficulties openly, we can build stronger coalitions and drive meaningful change. In the end, those brands that commit to sustainability will thrive, benefiting everyone in the long run.

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