Jonathan Carroll. Photography courtesy Loblaw
In Canadian Grocer’s new series, we’ll speak to people from across the industry about a specific project or initiative they led. You’ll hear from grocery leaders about their passions, how they tackle challenges, what they’ve learned and what keeps them motivated. Have a pitch? Send it to digital editor Jillian Morgan.
Jonathan Carroll has been with Loblaw Companies for 15 years, where he is SVP of operations for Real Canadian Superstore. In addition to traveling across Canada in this capacity – and becoming a champion of local products – Carroll has taken on a project that is significant not only for the entire company, but communities, suppliers, consumers and the planet: food waste reduction.
“Our purpose at Loblaw is to help ‘Canadians Live Life Well,’” says Carroll, chair of Loblaw's Food Waste Reduction Committee. “Driven by this purpose, our approach to addressing ESG is focused on two priorities: fighting climate change and advancing social equity.”
READ: Loblaw grocery brands partner with food recovery programs
Food waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and prevents healthy meals from reaching people facing food insecurity. Here, Carroll talks about taking the lead on food waste.
Tell us about the goal behind Loblaw’s food waste reduction efforts
As a company, our goal is to send zero food waste to landfill by 2030. This goal extends to our full enterprise, including franchise and associate-owned store operations, as well as our supply chain.
What is a change the company has made towards this goal?
We have long-standing partnerships with organizations like Food Banks Canada, Food Banks of Quebec and Second Harvest to help with our giving efforts. We have increased our support for food recovery programs across Canada, working with more partners in our communities to ensure edible food is donated to people in need. We’re also forming new and innovative partnerships with organizations such as Flashfood and Loop Resource. Flashfood is an app that connects consumers with great deals on groceries in surplus or nearing their best-before dates. Loop sends food not fit for human consumption to farms across Canada and to make animal feed and compost. And lastly, we partner with ZooShare, a biogas company in the Greater Toronto Area that transforms oil and other inedible products from our stores into electricity for the grid. To make the most of our partnerships, we leverage their expertise to implement effective food waste diversion strategies.
READ: Loblaw, Flashfood mark milestone in partnership to reduce food waste
What did this project need to get right from the start?
We have four areas of focus: engage and inspire our colleagues; data and reporting; drive donations; and supply chain. To engage and inspire our employees, we wanted to make them active participants in our mission, to inspire them to take a personal interest in reducing food waste in their community. To do this, we organized live training and education sessions with our donation partners Second Harvest, Food Banks Canada and Food Banks of Quebec. In 2023, we also created an e-learning module to educate colleagues on in-store practices including donation best practices and our various food waste diversion programs. We also knew that data and reporting would be paramount to our success. We established a tracking system to help us monitor and report our progress. The data can help us identify what's working and what needs improvement. This includes a food waste dashboard to help us track scrapping diversion and disposal rates at each store. To drive donations, in 2022, 100% of our eligible stores and distribution centres were matched with a local food bank or food recovery agency. When it comes to supply chain, we knew we needed to reduce excess inventory. That’s why we’ve adopted a proactive upstream mitigation approach which involves the implementation of an advanced inventory management ecosystem to enhance forecasting accuracy, improve visibility and reduce lead times from vendors to customers.
READ: Loblaw commits to donate one billion pounds of food by 2028