Food industry’s waste warning on Courtauld

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Courtauld commitment, Carbon dioxide, Food

2.3Mt of waste has been prevented by Courtauld
2.3Mt of waste has been prevented by Courtauld
The Courtauld Commitment 3 – which aims to further reduce the weight and carbon impact of household grocery and packaging waste – lacks ambition and the threat of a “government stick” to drive through the required changes, the food industry has been warned.

Tim Burns, head of Waste Watch, which is part of Keep Britain Tidy, told a recent Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum that the new waste reduction figures under phase 3 of the scheme were disappointing.

According to the government-backed Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the impact of Courtauld Commitment 3 is predicted to be a cumulative reduction of 1.1Mt of waste, 2.9Mt of carbon dioxide and a cost benefit of £1.6bn to consumers, the food and drink sector and local authorities.

However, Burns said this equated to targets of a 3% reduction of grocery product and packaging waste in the supply chain and a 5% reduction of food and drink waste in the home.

‘Not ambitious enough’

“We feel that Courtauld 3 is kind of more of the same, it’s not ambitious enough,”​ he said.

“It’s not going to get us to the European Commission’s target of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2020 or where we need to be if we’re going to confront some of these huge issues around climate change, around water, around resource scarcity, around food security and the more social justice side of the food debate.”

If the bigger issues were to be tackled, there needed to be incentives and punishments from government to foster “transformative change”.

“Instead, we're seeing positive change, and it’s great that companies have signed up to this but it’s only occurring at an incremental rate. We need to make a step change, we need to go beyond business as usual, so to speak, and we need government to set a framework.”

Burns conceded that some food firms were cutting waste above and beyond the targets set and urged them to use that as a “sales proposition"​ to encourage competitors to raise their game.

Step backwards

“If you've reduced your food waste by 10% or more being associated with a 3% cut at best for leading organisations in this field is a step backwards and, at worst, derogatory,”​ he added.

According to WRAP, the Courtauld Commitment had “a history of achieving change”.

“To date, 2.3Mt of waste has successfully been prevented by the Courtauld signatories and consumers during the first two phases of the commitment. The value of waste that has been prevented is around £3.5bn.”

The final results of Courtauld Commitment 2 will be announced later this year.

Forty-five major retailers and manufacturers have signed up to phase 3.

Related topics: Packaging materials

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