Routemap shows Wales could save £800m by cutting food waste

WRAP Cymru has released a new Welsh Food Waste routemap designed to show the key interventions necessary to deliver on the Welsh Government’s target to reduce avoidable food waste by 50 per cent by 2025 (relative to a 2007 baseline), and by 60 per cent by 2030. 

Food wasteIn March 2021, the Welsh Government published its ‘Beyond Recycling’ policy,which set the targets and introduced a strategy to make the circular economy a reality in Wales.

The WRAP Cymru routemap shows that achieving the targets will require concerted, ambitious actions across the food supply chain. Its key interventions could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 650 thousand tonnes of CO2e, and realise monetary savings of over £800 million – with more than a third (£267 million) being experienced by Welsh households.

Claire Shrewsbury, Director of WRAP, commented: “Our work shows the ambitions of the Welsh Government can be realised, but not without coordinated work across the supply chain.

“This means going beyond current action and taking a bolder approach. Our interventions can help Wales take significant steps towards a circular economy and benefit households.

“This innovative work for Wales also provides a blueprint that can be used by other governments and countries to cut GHG emissions and reduce food waste within those nations. It is possible that this report will enable a worldwide reduction in food waste and a substantial global reduction in GHG emissions.”

Actions in manufacturing and retail

The routemap suggests a variety of actions for manufacturing and retail including increasing waste reporting, optimised packaging design, improved date labelling and food redistribution.

The report also shows that engaging with the large number of SMEs manufacturing food in Wales could raise awareness of the issues of food waste, the need to monitor waste, and help put effective systems in place to support SMEs move towards more sustainable, low-waste business models.

Additionally, on-pack consumer information has the potential to provide customers with information that could help reduce food waste. WRAP Cymru says that emerging technologies may allow for more dynamic labelling which can aid with storage, the consumption of the product, and supplement other consumer communications.

Finally, ‘valorisation’ could reduce waste and provide additional revenue streams by reprocessing surpluses into new products for alternative markets. Surplus stock can be valorised internally by manufacturers or sold or donated to third parties.

Actions in hospitality and food service

WRAP Cymru identifies that waste reporting takes on even more significance in a hospitality and food service context. It points to recent digital solutions that have emerged in commercial kitchens to address food waste and provide staff with a better understanding of the amount of waste generated.

The routemap points to other interventions such as engaging with the sector to encourage and educate buying, storage, preparation and serving best practices, and enforcing the separation of food waste. The latter has the potential to change the way employees see the volume of food waste a business produces. In Wales, businesses generating more than 5kg of food waste per week will be required to present it for separate collection. Similar requirements are in place for businesses in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

Actions for households

The routemap suggests a variety of actions for households including improving overall participation and recycling rates, consumer awareness campaigns, and consumer behaviour and upskilling interventions.

Wales already has a nearly universal food waste collection, so many citizens may already have an understanding of the need to separate food waste. WRAP Cymru says this may be one of the reasons Wales currently has lower food waste levels than the rest of the UK.

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