The IGD’s Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) forum – a group of food supply chain firms – challenged its members, including food and drink manufacturers, to divert 150,000t of waste from landfill by December 2012.
But the target was exceeded by an estimated 45,000t by the end of last year, said the IGD. Increased use of anaerobic digestion and recycling facilities played a key role in the achievement, it added.
A second challenge – to eliminate 75,000t of waste from the supply chain – was also on course to be smashed nearly almost a year ahead of schedule, with firms having eliminated an estimated 70,000t by December 2011.
Removing excess packaging – used to protect goods in transit through the food supply chain – and collaborating with other businesses to better-forecast supply and demand accounted for the achievement.
IGD chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch said: “The work of ECR UK members to date is very encouraging – they have exceeded one target by 30% and made good progress on the other. This demonstrates the industry’s strong commitment to removing supply chain waste.”
Estelle Herszenhorn, food and drink manager for the government-funded Waste and Resources Action Programme, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the progress was encouraging. The reduction “… is testament to the grocery sector’s commitment in focusing on waste prevention as part of its overall waste strategy”, she said.
David Bellamy, environment policy manager at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), said that manufacturers had made good progress in both the IGD’s challenge and the FDF’s own Five-fold Environmental Ambition (FEA). The FEA was launched in 2007 to define how the food and drink manufacturing sector could help protect the environment.
But more progress was required if the industry was to meet the December 2012 targets of the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment – a deal committing firms to using resources more sustainably over the lifecycle of products, Bellamy told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“The FDF continues to work closely with WRAP on developing the implementation support available to signatory companies and their supply chains,” he said.
Simon Bailey, customer service director, Unilever UK and Ireland, said the industry must place more focus on preventing waste from occurring in the supply chain in the first place.
The ECR forum – of which Unilever is a member – has made it easier to understand how choices made by individual firms can affect the waste prevention in the food supply chain, he said. “This is key to accelerating our progress.”