Despite progress towards achieving some waste reduction and recycling targets under the UK's Courtauld Commitment, a 2012 supply chain waste reduction target is proving a challenge for industry, with only a “marginal decrease” thus far, said WRAP CEO Liz Goodwin.
Yesterday, Waste & Resources Action Plan’s (WRAP) announced first-year progress on the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement whereby manufacturers and retailers commit to waste reduction and recycling targets: 53 major signatories include Heinz, Premier Foods and Nestlé UK.
According to WRAP, food, drink and packaging waste totals around 18.4m tonnes, and costs associated with waste generation cost the UK supply chain and consumers an estimated £17bn a year.
WRAP said the results showed that signatories were halfway towards achieving packaging reduction targets (5.1 per cent against a 10 per cent three year December 2012 reduction target) and three quarters of the way towards reaching household food waste objectives (3 per cent versus a 4 per cent target).
More work needed
However, the report discussed slow progress on grocery supply chain product and packaging waste reduction, with cuts of only 0.4 per cent against a 5 per cent 2012 reduction target, which Goodwin admitted was proving “more of a challenge” for industry to achieve.
Waste to landfill was cut by 40 per cent, WRAP said, with much of the waste diverted to anaerobic digestion (AD)
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) minister Lord Taylor said that despite progress there was no room for complacency. “It’s clear that more work needs to be done in meeting our new target for reducing waste in the supply chain,” he said.
Discussing progress against the targets, the UK Food & Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) environment policy manager, David Bellamy, told FoodProductionDaily.com that investments in technologies to reduce waste may cost food firms money at the outset, but the long-term investment will bring both economic and environmental gains.
Despite the involvement of major food firms in the commitment, Bellamy said that Courtauld was open to all the FDF’s members: “We don’t discriminate against any size of company, and specifically we make our members aware of the opportunities within Courtauld as well as the other support that WRAP provides, such as the tools they offer for business to help them eliminate waste.”
Bellamy added: “For waste that cannot be avoided, we also work with DEFRA and other stakeholders in support of the government’s anaerobic digestion plan.”
The UK food and beverage industry was also taking action to encourage consumer behaviour changes, to reduce waste in the home, he said.
“As far as packaging is concerned, our members work to optimise packaging, making sure it’s fit for purpose, i.e. it protects the product and doesn’t lead to food waste,” said Bellamy.
He added: “Our members are also actively seeking packaging solutions to help consumers minimise waste, such as portion packs, resealable packs and intelligent packaging.”
The FDF also worked with the packaging supply chain and other stakeholders to encourage a more harmonised approach to local recycling schemes, he added, while food waste-saving initiatives included WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign with local authorities and UK communities.