Food waste progress, but more needed

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Courtauld signatories boosted the amount of waste food redistributed to needy consumers
Courtauld signatories boosted the amount of waste food redistributed to needy consumers

Related tags Food waste Recycling

The food industry is struggling with food waste reduction, despite achieving some significant milestones, according to the charity Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The first year results of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3, released by WRAP, reveal retailers and manufacturers committed to the scheme confessed to “little change” ​in the amount of food waste they generated. That’s despite targets to cut volumes by 3%.

“There is still much to do before the end of this third phase though, with the biggest challenge being the manufacturing and retail target,”​ said Dr Richard Swannell, WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems. “We will be working closely with signatories to help ensure all the targets are met.”

That said, Courtauld signatories reported 80% more food had been redistributed to needy consumers. That represented a rise from 21,000t to 38,000t.

Cut greenhouse gas emissions

In addition, they claimed to have cut greenhouse gas emissions from packaging by 4.5%, well ahead of the 2015 Courtauld target of zero increase.

They also reported an increase in recycling and recovery, with less material going to sewer or for disposal.

“I am delighted that progress on the packaging target has exceeded expectations and redistribution has increased significantly,”​ said Swannell.

Resource management minister Dan Rogerson added: “Making the best possible use of our resources is vital and while there is still work to be done I congratulate everyone signed-up to the Courtauld Commitment for their efforts this year.”

The industry’s progress was welcomed by Scotland’s cabinet secretary for the environment Richard Lochhead, who said: “I look forward to seeing the final results of this programme.”

‘Much work to be done’

Welsh government natural resources minister Carl Sargeant said it was committed to preventing food waste going to landfill, and stressed it formed part of its Environment Bill proposals. “There is much work to be done, but I’m encouraged at the progress that Courtauld signatories have made in making the most of surplus food,”​ he said.

“Food waste has environmental, social and financial impacts associated with its production, and more and more businesses are recognising the importance of this.” 

Northern Ireland’s environment minister Mark Durkan said: “I welcome the action that the grocery businesses are taking to reduce food waste and increase recycling. This will help to divert waste from landfill and is in line with the forthcoming Food Waste Regulations.”

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee praised WRAP’s work in its food security report, published on January 22, and called for the government to increase its funding. For more details, click here​.

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