Three ways WFP is practising environmentally conscious logistics

By Isaac Onyango

Every day, the World Food Programme (WFP) works around the clock to save lives and change lives for a world without hunger.
But we can’t end hunger without a healthy and sustainable planet.
Right now, our Earth faces a triple planetary emergency: the climate is heating up too quickly for people and nature to adapt; habitat loss and other pressures mean an estimated 1 million species are threatened with extinction; and pollution continues to poison our air, land and water.
To ensure WFP’s lifesaving and changing work today, doesn’t have negative impacts on the environment and communities we serve tomorrow — we’re taking action.
Here are three examples of WFP’s environmentally friendly projects and operations in the Eastern Africa region:

A new life for plastic pallets and food bags in Kenya

WFP works with local organizations in Kenya to recycle broken plastic pallets. Photos: WFP/Emanuela Cattaneo

We’ve all seen them, those flat plastic structures at the bottom of heavy shipments. These pallets are used in nearly all road, rail, or sea transport activities as they ensure the stability of goods and allow for safe lifting and stacking.
But when they break, they are essentially useless, right? Actually, no.
WFP acted on this front and as part of a wider recycling exercise covering supply chain and packaging materials across the region and globally, WFP works with local organizations to recycle plastic pallets along with polypropylene food packaging bags.

These efforts not only support an immediate reduction in waste, but also help to stimulate circular economy solutions for cleaner and more environmentally friendly communities.

Since their start in 2021, around 68 tons of broken plastic pallets, have been transformed into washing basins and water buckets.

Meanwhile, 140 tons of polypropylene bags have been recycled and repurposed for use within the community and surrounding areas.

Solar Powered Facilities in Sudan

14 of WFP’s warehouses in Sudan are powered by renewable energy. Photo: WFP/Shimaa Farah

WFP has expanded the use of renewable energy to reduce reliance on diesel generators to power its warehouse facilities in Sudan. Solar photovoltaic systems (the technical term for a collection of solar panels that work together) are one of the key technologies of choice by converting sunlight into electricity.
Since 2018, solar photovoltaic systems have been installed at 14 warehouses and we are proud to report that to date, these have generated nearly 5,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy, avoiding the release of approximately 4,300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Currently all 14 warehouses which have been installed with solar photovoltaic systems only use diesel generators as backup.

Tanzania and Uganda: Reimagining Transportation for Reduced Costs and Emissions

WFP has reduced the cost of moving humanitarian cargo from Dar-es-Salaam to Kampala by switching from road to rail and ferry. Photos: WFP/Amon Nkwabi and Ernest Bukombe

WFP has invested US$600,000 to rehabilitate 40 railway wagons to transport food for WFP’s emergency and refugee operations from the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania to Uganda’s capital city of Kampala — a distance of around 1,600 kilometres.
This journey — which used to be completed by road — also includes a 300 kilometre stretch across water, where the wagons are rolled onto a ferry and transported across Lake Victoria.
This multimodal form of transport has improved WFP’s supply chain performance by lowering the cost of moving humanitarian cargo by switching from road to rail and ferry transport. For example, one train carrying 800 tons of cargo is equivalent to 27 trucks (carrying 30 tons each). This reduces operational costs by 40 percent and supports the environment because rail and waterborne transport is more greenhouse gas efficient than moving freight by road.

Every Action Counts
These three points are only a small snapshot of the environmental work WFP does every day, despite the complex challenges WFP faces every day in our global operations, we remain committed to making the environment a priority. Let’s take care of the one home we all share.

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