Business

Iceland announces target to halve food waste by 2030

The UK supermarket Iceland has announced its target to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in food waste in its operations by 2030.

An image of Iceland frozen food

Iceland’s Food Waste Report 2019/2020 outlines the supermarket’s commitment to reduce food waste by 50 per cent in its supply chain.

This falls in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal SDG 12.3 which aims to cut food waste by half globally by 2020 and address its significant carbon and methane footprint. The UN Food and Agricultural Association reports that if food waste was a country it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China and the USA).

Iceland has so far reduced its food waste in operations by 23 per cent in the last two years, from 10,354 tonnes in 2017/2018 to 7,952 tonnes in 2019/20.

Of the unsold surplus food in the financial year of 2019/20, the company reports: 7,952 tonnes of food waste was sent to anaerobic digestion plants, 156.8 tonnes of surplus food was redistributed to people in need and 1,423 tonnes of surplus bread was converted into animal feed — none was sent to landfill.

The supermarket has signed up to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Courtauld Commitment 2025, the UK grocery sector’s voluntary agreement to reduce food waste by 20 per cent before the middle of the decade. In January, WRAP released its progress report showing that food waste had fallen by seven per cent per person in three years.

To cut food waste in its operations moving forward, Iceland is working to extend the shelf life of its frozen products to up to two years and develop new approaches to packaging, transportation and storage that keeps products safer and fresher for longer.

Responding to research from Manchester Metropolitan University, which revealed that British families could reduce their waste by nearly half (47.5 per cent) by eating frozen food as well as saving money on their weekly shop, Iceland aims to use these findings to inform its ongoing marketing and buying strategies to help its customers to plan, prepare and store food effectively.

Read more: Four ways to reduce food waste during coronavirus lockdown

Earlier this month, WRAP highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has driven positive consumer behaviour change with regard to food waste. Its survey highlighted that citizens had adopted ‘food smart’ behaviours during the lockdown. More than a third of participants report that they are enacting certain food-saving behaviours more often than before the lockdown, such as checking what is in their cupboard (47 per cent), their fridge (45 per cent) and their freezer (30 per cent) before shopping, as well as making a shopping list before heading to the shops (34 per cent).

You can read more about Iceland’s ambitions to cut food waste in its report.