Food manufacturers ahead of waste reduction targets

By Noli Dinkovski contact

- Last updated on GMT

The food industry is ahead of its waste targets
The food industry is ahead of its waste targets

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

Food manufacturers and retailers are ahead of the game when it comes to meeting waste reduction targets, a Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report has found.

Activity by signatories helped achieve a “considerable reduction”​ in traditional grocery ingredient, product and packaging waste since 2012, according to the second interim report of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3.

The report revealed waste was down by 3.2% after the first two years – equivalent of 80,000t since 2012. The government had set a reduction target of 3% for this period.

Latest figures also showed the sector had gone beyond the target of maintaining a zero-increase level of CO2​ emissions with a 3.9% reduction in two years.

Growing sales

In packaging, progress remains well ahead of the target, despite a backdrop of growing sales – up by more than 5% for the companies that reported sales data.

Changes in the mix of packaging materials and increases in recycling rates resulted in an overall reduction in CO2 ​emissions, despite packaging weight actually increasing by 0.7% over this same period.

Voluntary agreement

The Courtauld Commitment​ is a voluntary agreement set up in 2005 to support businesses in improving their overall performance, and reduce their environmental impact.

Phase 3 runs from 2013 to 2015 with targets measured against a 2012 baseline. The final results for the three-year agreement will be published in 2016.

The increase in packaging weight itself was for single use transit packaging, rather than household (primary) packaging, which continues to decrease by weight.

Progress against the household food waste target is not collected annually, and 2015 data will be available when the final report comes out in 2016.

Sector-wide approach

Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, said: “I’m delighted with the progress towards targets in the first two years of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3.

“What makes Courtauld so effective is the sector-wide approach to tackling the most impactful areas. Not just thinking about what will help your business, but what will make a more environmentally and economically effective supply chain.”

Swannell added: “It’s important we continue to strive in the final year of Courtauld Phase 3 and push the boundaries in the preparation for Courtauld 2025.”

Resource minister Rory Stewart said: “From farm to fork, we all have a responsibility to waste less food. These latest figures reflect a lot of hard work from across the food and packaging supply chain and I want to congratulate the whole sector for coming together to cut waste, reduce packaging and increase food redistribution.”

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