UK businesses sign up to ‘world first’ food waste reduction roadmap
Globally, around a third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted from on the journey from farm to fork. A report released in August suggests that food waste could rise by almost a third by 2030, reaching more than two billion tonnes a year if current rates of loss and waste continue.
In the UK, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has estimated that 10 million tonnes of food is wasted annually, 60 per cent of which is avoidable. But businesses are stepping up efforts to tackle this global problem with the launch of the new Food Waste Reduction Roadmap from WRAP and IGD, a research group for the food industry. The Roadmap, the first of its kind in the world, sets out actions and milestones for supporting businesses to reduce their food wastage in line with national and international targets, including Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aims for global consumer and retail food waste to be halved by 2030.
As well as the backing of English, Welsh and Scottish Governments, 89 organisations have so far pledged to support the Roadmap, including all the major UK supermarkets, 46 producers and manufacturers and a number of trade bodies from across the supply chain such as the British Retail Consortium, the National Farmers’ Union and UKHospitality.
Under the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, large businesses are being asked to adopt a ‘Target-Measure-Act’ approach to reducing food waste, by:
- Setting a food waste reduction target for their own UK operations in line with the SDGs;
- Measuring their results in a consistent way and sharing their findings publicly and transparently; and
- Acting to reduce their own food waste as well as to help suppliers and consumers do the same.
This new commitment will work alongside Courtauld 2025, another WRAP-led initiative for the UK food industry. Launched in 2016 as the fourth part of the wider Courtauld Commitment, a series of voluntary agreements beginning in 2005, Courtauld 2025 is aiming for a 20 per cent reduction in food and drink waste over 10 years and according to WRAP, its signatories represent 95 per cent of the UK food retail market.
The first review into Courtauld 2025, published in December 2017, acknowledged that the previous Courtauld commitment (Courtauld 3) had in fact seen a rise in household food waste, with WRAP’s Director of Business Programmes Steve Creed admitting that “it is incredibly challenging to reduce food waste… There is a lot more work for us all to do if we are to achieve our collective ambition”.
‘Measuring Up’, a report published in July by UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development, found that the UK was falling behind on a number of targets in SDG 12, stating that ‘a more rapid decline [in food waste] is needed over the coming decade to achieve Target 12.3.’
The waste reduction approach set out in the new Roadmap will be ‘vital’ to helping the UK achieve both Courtauld and SDG targets, WRAP has said, and many of the businesses involved in Courtauld have also pledged their support for the Roadmap.
The first major milestone for the plan is to have 50 per cent of the UK’s largest 250 food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by September 2019 – and all 250 by 2026. WRAP will track progress against both the Roadmap and Courtauld at regular intervals before the 2030 report on UK progress against SDG 12.3 is released.
WRAP and IGD have produced sector-specific guidance materials and a toolkit to support organisations in their food waste reduction goals.
Commenting on the new publication, Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: “This Roadmap is hugely ambitious, and I’m delighted that the UK is the first country anywhere to set a nationwide plan towards delivering its part in SDG 12.3.
“There are many businesses working hard already, but many more need to focus on food waste. If the food sector follows this Roadmap it will significantly accelerate work to achieving both Courtauld 2025, and SDG 12.3 targets. And I urge other companies to adopt the principles laid out in the Roadmap and join the rest of the sector on this historic journey.”
IGD’s Chief Executive, Joanna Dennery-Finch, described the Roadmap as a “huge opportunity” for UK businesses, saying: “UK shoppers see industry food waste at the top of their priorities and by working together with the total food chain, we’re delighted to have secured a world first, with the UK leading the way in this important area.”
UK Resources Minister Thérèse Coffey has congratulated the businesses “stepping up to the plate” by signing up to the Roadmap. She continued: “The UK is a global leader in measuring food waste and supporting international food waste prevention projects. It is through government, consumers, and businesses working together that we will continue to tackle the unacceptable issue of unnecessary food waste.”
More on the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap can be found on the WRAP website.