Food and packaging waste drive ends with mixed results

10th January 2017

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Rosanna Fildes

Businesses in the hospitality and food service sector have met their target to cut food and packaging waste, but failed to reach their recycling goal, according to waste body Wrap.

Wrap published the final results of the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) today. The three-year voluntary agreement aimed to reduce waste and increase recycling rates by restaurants, hotels and organisations in the health service. More than 230 organisations signed up, covering around 25% of the UK sector.

The HaFSA signatories pledged to reduce food and associated packaging waste by 5% by the end of 2015 against a 2012 baseline, measured in CO2e saved. Signatories exceeded this, achieving an 11% reduction.

Activities by participants saved an estimated 24,000 tonnes of food, worth around £67m, from being thrown away. Redistribution of surplus food doubled over the three-year period to 760 tonnes.

Wrap cited work to highlight the cost of food waste as critical to meeting this target.

The second goal centred on improving overall waste management, with signatories working to increase the combined rate of food and packaging waste recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to at least 70%. The recycling rate increased by one third, from 42% to 56%.

Wrap set up a specific working group on the issue, issued guidance and technical support to help businesses review existing waste management services and develop new schemes through clauses in contracts for food waste and recycling collections.

However, the waste body said it had not been possible for some organisations to change their waste management contracts to incorporate food waste collections during the lifetime of the agreement.

Steve Creed, director of business programmes at Wrap, said: ‘While it’s disappointing not to have met the waste management target in full, big improvements have been made. To see food waste recycling increase by more than half and packaging recycling at nearly 70% for signatories is very impressive. And nearly 100,000 tonnes of food and packaging waste has moved up the waste hierarchy to recycling.’

HaFSA has now been rolled into work on the fourth phase of the Courtauld Commitment, which runs to 2025. This aims to cut waste and greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions associated with food and drink in the UK by at least one-fifth per capita, and reduce water use.

The results of the commitment’s third phase were also published today by Wrap. Manufacturers and retailers met the target to reduce food and packaging waste by 3%, which equats to 219,000 tonnes of food and packaging waste, and saved 555,000 tonnes of CO2e between 2012 and 2015. The recovery and recycling rate grew from 95% in 2012 to 99% in 2015, Wrap found.

A target to prevent any increase in carbon emissions from packaging was met. CO2 emissions from packaging dropped by 7%, despite the amount of packaging material placed on the market increasing by 1%, Wrap said.

This achievement was due to increased recycling rates for different packaging materials and changes in materials composition, leading to a fall in CO2e from wood, polymer, aluminium and steel packaging.

However, the sector failed to meet a target to cut household food and drink waste by 5%. Instead it increased from 7Mt in 2012, to 7.3Mt in 2015. Wrap cited population growth, falling food prices and increased personal earnings as behind the stall in progress to cut food waste in homes.

A new approach to cutting household food waste is being developed as part of Courtauld 2025, Wrap said. Measures could include tips on packaging and on shop displays for the most commonly wasted food items, and applying best practice and date labelling and storage advice.


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