Sustainability

Meat supply chain pledges to cut waste in half by 2030

38 of the UK’s largest meat producers and retailers have signed a pledge to halve the amount of meat that goes to waste in the UK each year by 2030.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has brought together grocery retailers and meat processors representing 80 per cent of the UK’s meat production have pledged to support the ‘Meat in a Net Zero World’ plan, facilitated by WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025.

With around 380,000 tonnes of the meat intended for consumption in the UK going uneaten each year, generating four million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, reducing the amount of waste in the meat supply chain will be crucial in the UK’s efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In keeping with the UK’s net-zero emission target of 2050 and in line with the aims of the Courtauld Commitment 2025, the Meat in a Net Zero World plan aims to reduce meat waste by 20 per cent by 2025 and by 50 per cent by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

The plan’s vision involves its supporters taking collective action, from farm to fork to public accountability, in hopes of making the UK a world-leading model for sustainable meat production and supply. It also hopes to unite trade organisations, meat processors, retailers and hospitality and food service businesses in committing to improving productivity, tackling deforestation, cutting carbon emissions and reducing the amount of meat wasted in the UK, which comes to a value of £3 billion every year.

A dedicated Meat Working Group has been convened by WRAP under Courtauld 2025, which brings together key stakeholders to identify the areas of biggest impact and collaborative opportunities to overcome barriers. The Group is set to work on actions such as: creating a common metric for measuring greenhouse gas emissions in the beef, sheep, pigs and poultry sectors; providing guidelines for meat processors, farmers and abattoir workers on increasing efficiency; and providing advice for consumers on reducing meat waste.

Among the key trading bodies committed to supporting the vision of the Courtauld Commitment 2025 are the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), the British Poultry Council (BPC), the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), the National Pig Association (NPA), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Commenting on the plan, Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP, said “There has never been a more critical time for action in our food system, and the current Covid-19 situation further illustrates this. I am delighted that despite the incredible pressure the sector is under keeping the nation fed, organisations remain committed to the ambitious sustainability goals laid out in Meat in a Net Zero world, and that WRAP could help industry develop and launch such a bold strategy.

“It is key that the focus is on every link in the supply chain from production, processing and sale, through to the customer – whether they are eating in or outside of the home. I’m confident that Meat in a Net Zero World will have a significant impact towards achieving our national and global targets. And believe this has the potential to become a blueprint that other nations will emulate.”

WRAP has been active in calling for retailers, restaurants and farmers to reduce their food waste, as well as publishing food waste progress reports and launching a roadmap that sets out actions and milestones for supporting businesses, including supermarkets and hospitality businesses, to reduce food waste.

You can view the ‘Meat in a Net Zero World’ plan in full on the WRAP website.