Packaging and food waste cuts ahead of target

28th October 2015

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Food and drink ,
  • Retail and wholesale


John Kennedy

Manufacturers and retailers have reduced food and packaging waste by 3.2% (80,000 tonnes) from 2012 levels, surpassing the target of a 3% cut by 2015, according to waste body Wrap.

The figures came in interim results on the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary initiative to reduce the environmental impacts from retail and manufacturing of food, which has been running since 2005. The scheme is now in its third phase (2013-15) and measures progress against a 2012 baseline.

Signatories to the commitment had agreed no increase in carbon emissions from packaging by the end of 2015 and the latest progress report from Wrap reveals CO2 from packaging has actually decreased by 3.9%, since 2012. The waste body cites changes in the mix of packaging materials and increases in recycling rates as reasons behind the decline, which has been achieved despite an increase in sales of more than 5% for some companies participating in the scheme.

The commitment also includes a target to reduce household food and drink waste by 5%. Data for progress under this target will be published next year, Wrap said.

Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today published figures showing that the total amount of waste produced by supermarkets was 180,000 tonnes in 2014, down from 200,000 tonnes in 2013. The data, which has been independently verified by Wrap, covers Asda, Co-operative Food, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose.

A report by the trade body includes case studies of how supermarkets have cut waste. For example, Tesco now bakes less bread more often, rather than larger volumes in one go, after it discovered that 41% of its food waste came from the bakery department.

Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at Wrap, said bsinesses had been taking a sector-wide approach to meeting the targets, including in their supply chains.

Wrap estimates that around 15 million tonnes of food and drink is wasted in the UK each year, with about 1% stemming from retailers.

BRC director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, said: "While we welcome the fact that retail food waste levels are falling, it is nevertheless important to continue to focus attention and efforts on where the biggest reductions in food waste can be made and that is in the supply chain and at home."

Wrap says it will begin work next year on how the commitment will evolve to 2025. It is planning initiatives to cut food waste from consumers and also to help businesses to share efficiency savings in supply chains.


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