Integrating environmental sustainability into Healthy Food at Work programmes


In a paper last year, the Workforce Nutrition Alliance (WNA) highlighted the desire to integrate Workforce Nutrition indicators into ESG reporting. We focused mainly on the Social and Governance elements. This follow-up paper addresses the Environmental aspects of workforce nutrition and ESG reporting.

The WNA has devised a four-pillar framework for successful workforce nutrition programmes, encompassing Healthy Food at Work, Nutrition Education, Nutrition Health Checks and Breastfeeding Support. This report focuses on initiatives under the Healthy Food at Work pillar. Given the strong correlation between healthy food provision at work and environmental sustainability, this report narrows its focus to Healthy Food at Work initiatives.

We argue that the integration of environmental considerations into Healthy Food at Work programmes through strategic initiatives such as sustainable sourcing, waste management and packaging optimisation can highlight a company’s reputation for promoting responsible practices. Complementary approaches such as menu planning, employee education and promoting plant-based diets, when relevant, can also enhance sustainability in workplace food provision.

Companies can play a significant role in promoting both environmental stewardship and employee well-being. Using clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for these strategies, and aligning with relevant ESG reporting frameworks, companies can improve performance measurement, enhance transparency and demonstrate commitment to responsible business practices.

The main strategies identified are:

  • promoting sustainable sourcing practices
  • managing food waste
  • reducing and optimising food packaging

Beyond these core strategies, there are complementary actions that companies can take to bolster the sustainability of their workplace nutrition initiatives.

  • Menu planning: prioritise local products and consider seasonality in menu design
  • Educating and nudging employees towards healthier and more sustainable diets: promoting employee education on healthy and sustainable nutrition

For organisations moving into this space, it is possible to define and report relevant KPIs within established ESG reporting frameworks, such the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).

Integrating sustainability metrics into these programmes allows organisations to evaluate their environmental performance, including emissions reductions, resource efficiency and waste management. By understanding the challenges and addressing them with concrete strategies, organisations can contribute to sustainable food systems while demonstrably enhancing their own sustainability performance. Measurement also provides the platform for improvement through evidence-based target setting.

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