WRAP hails Courtauld ‘progress’

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) today (28 October) published the second interim report of Courtauld Commitment 3, which shows that manufacturing and retail waste has reduced against the baseline 2012 figure, though packaging weight has increased.

The report follows news that, in the first year of Courtauld 3, there was an increase of just under 0.1 per cent in manufacturing and retail waste. The increase was attributed in part to an increase in single-use transit packaging, such as shrink wrap, single-use pallets and outer boxes.

The rise of single-use transit packaging continues to be an issue in the second reporting period, with its use being blamed for a 0.7 per cent increase in packaging weight, though household (primary) packaging continues to decrease by weight and the report indicates waste production falling overall.

According to the report, activity by signatories in the second year of the commitment has helped achieve an overall reduction in traditional grocery ingredient, product and packaging waste in the manufacturing and retail operations of participants of 3.2 per cent, or 80,000 tonnes, against the 2012 baseline. Signatories have agreed to reduce waste by three per cent by 2015.

The latest figures also show that signatories have reduced carbon dioxide emissions associated with packaging continue by 3.9 per cent, which exceeds the target of maintaining a zero-increase level of CO2 emissions.

WRAP says that the ‘progress’ has taken place against a backdrop of growing sales, up by more than five per cent for signatories who reported sales data. Not all signatories submitted results for the interim report, though, with packaging results based on data from 50 of the 53 signatories and manufacturing retail waste results based on data from 44 of the 47 signatories eligible to report.

Progress against the household food waste target is not collected annually, moreover, and 2015 data will be available for final year reporting in 2016.

Courtauld background

Courtauld Commitment 3, funded by all four UK governments, was launched in May 2013 by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and is the third phase of the voluntary agreement aimed at improving resource efficiency and reducing the carbon and wider environmental impact of the grocery sector.

Running until December 2015, the commitment asks signatories to work towards a range of targets to help reduce waste by 1.1 million tonnes by 2015. WRAP estimates that this would bring £1.6 billion in benefits to ‘consumers and industry’ and would result in carbon dioxide equivalent reductions of 2.9 megatonnes – comparable to removing one million cars from the UK’s roads.

Action taken to reduce food and packaging waste under the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment (Courtauld Commitment 2) reportedly delivered £3.1 billion in cost savings.

The targets for the Courtauld Commitment 3 are:

  • reducing household food and drink waste by five per cent (a nine per cent reduction in real terms to counter the expected increase in food purchased);
  • reducing traditional grocery ingredient, product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain by three per cent (an eight per cent reduction in real terms to counter the expected increase in production and sales); and
  • improving packaging design through the supply chain to maximise recycled content as appropriate, improving recyclability and delivering product protection to reduce food waste, whilst ensuring there is no increase in the carbon impact of packaging (a three per cent carbon reduction in real terms to counter the expected sales increase).

All targets are measured against a 2012 baseline.

This is the final year of the Courtauld Commitment, with WRAP now developing Courtauld 2025, a farm-to-fork industry-wide commitment to build on the work of the Courtauld Commitment, the Product Sustainability Forum and the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement. Courtauld 2025 will begin in 2016 and focus on ‘optimising system-wide outcomes’.

According to WRAP, a central part of Courtauld 2025 will be helping consumers reduce avoidable food waste at home, and helping businesses share efficiency savings along supply chains, waste less and get more value from unavoidable waste and increase business resilience.

‘Pushing the boundaries in the preparation for Courtauld 2025’

Commenting on today’s interim figures, Dr Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP, said: “I’m delighted with the progress towards targets in the first two years of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3. What makes Courtauld so effective is the sector-wide approach to tackling the most impactful areas. Not just thinking about what will help your business, but what will make a more environmentally and economically effective supply chain. It’s important we continue to strive in the final year of Courtauld Phase 3 and push the boundaries in the preparation for Courtauld 2025.” 

Resource Minister Rory Stewart added: “From farm to fork we all have a responsibility to waste less food. These latest figures reflect a lot of hard work from across the food and packaging supply chain and I want to congratulate the whole sector for coming together to cut waste, reduce packaging and increase food redistribution.”

Referring to plans to introduce a national food waste reduction target, Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “I welcome the progress the grocery sector is making on reducing the impact of packaging and particularly food waste. Recently I announced my intention to set a national food waste reduction target for Scotland as we need to make the most of the food that we already produce and eliminate needless waste, so I would encourage the grocery sector to build on this achievement.”

The ministers’ counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland also commented, with Welsh Government Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant calling the results “encouraging” and Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan congratulating all involved and praising “the practical steps your collective action is making to benefit the environment and economy in the North”.

Learn more about the Courtauld Commitment 3.