Food firms sign up to new Courtauld waste commitment

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Courtauld commitment Recycling

The Courtauld Commitment targets a 5% reduction in household food and drink waste
The Courtauld Commitment targets a 5% reduction in household food and drink waste
Food manufacturers and retailers have demonstrated commitment to reducing food and drink waste as 45 companies have signed up for the third phase of the Courtauld Commitment, which was launched yesterday (May 9).

The signatories – which include major manufacturers including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Premier Foods and Unilever UK – are aiming to reduce waste by 1.1Mt by 2015. That adds up to cost benefits to consumers and industry of £1.6bn.

The Courtauld Commitment phase 3 targets are:

  • Reduce household food and drink waste by 5%. (This represents a 9% reduction in real terms to counter the expected increase in food purchased)
  • Reduce traditional grocery ingredients, product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain by 3%. (That equates to an 8% reduction in real terms to counter the expected increase in production and sales)
  • Improve packaging design through the supply chain to maximise recycled content, improve recyclability and deliver product protection to reduce food waste, while ensuring no increase in the carbon impact of packaging. (Signatories will have to make a 3% reduction in real terms to counter the expected sales increase).


Andy Dawe, head of food and drink at the government-funded Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which brokered the agreement, said food manufacturers had a major role to play in helping consumers reduce household waste, even though they did not have direct contact them.

Focus more on recyclability

After the achievements of first two Courtauld phases, he said there was limited scope for optimisation of packaging, but the targets would focus more on recyclability and keeping food fresh for longer.

However, there was greater scope for savings in the use of ingredients, which was not included in the first Courtauld phase.

He said: “Food manufacturers need to make the best use of ingredients they buy in, how they are used and how much goes top waste.”

Once food was no longer saleable but still suitable for human consumption, there was an opportunity for redistribution of food to charities, so it did not go to waste. Food that was no longer fit for humans could still avoid going to waste if it could be used in animal feed.

Investment in new equipment

Dawe said that while some savings might require investment in new equipment, many other savings cost little to achieve because they were about understanding where waste occurred and changing behaviour.

Andrew Kuyk, director of sustainability at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), said: “We are delighted that WRAP is launching a third phase of the Courtauld Commitment, especially at a time when the twin challenges of future food security and climate change make it imperative that food and drink businesses address resource efficiency both within their own operations and across their supply chains.

“Delivering improvements in resource efficiency across our members’ operations remains the centre piece of FDF’s Five-fold Environmental Ambition. In this regard, the Courtauld Commitment remains an important delivery mechanism for our actions on waste and packaging.”

The voluntary agreement was a great example of how industry and government can collaborate to deliver a common set of aims, he added. “The FDF looked forward to working with WRAP and the signatory companies to complete this new set of goals in the months ahead.”

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