Resource Use

WRAP publishes Food Waste Reduction Roadmap update

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published today (27 September) its Annual Progress Report for the UK’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.

Produced in partnership with the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), the report outlines the progress that has been made across the food industry in reducing refuse, as well as further action that needs to be taken for targets to be met, in accordance with the Roadmap initiative.

Food wasteThe project was initially launched in September 2018 in order to map out the route that food companies across the country should follow in order to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 through halving both food loss and waste by 2030. Since its inception, as the report states, over 200 of the country’s large food businesses have begun reporting the actions that they have taken to prevent food from entering the waste stream, with these companies having achieved a 17 per cent reduction in food waste over the past year on average. This equates to 251,000 tonnes of food waste, valued at around £365 million, being diverted from unnecessary disposal, according to WRAP.

The report outlines the Roadmap’s call for businesses to implement a Target, Measure, Act strategy. ‘Target’ refers to companies either adopting SDG 12.3 or setting a food waste reduction target that contributes to the achievement of the SDG; ‘Measure’ refers to companies committing to consistently quantifying food surplus; ‘Act’ refers to companies committing to waste reduction based on their findings.

The paper outlines the UK’s efforts to tackle the issue of food waste, stating that the nation is halfway towards achieving SDG 12.3, which should increase if more companies begin to adopt the Target, Measure, Act method. So far, the report states, 267 food businesses and supporting organisations have signed up to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, increasing from 70 in September 2020. In terms of businesses implementing this new Target, Measure, Act strategy, the number has increased to 207 from 36, representing over 85 per cent of large businesses cosigned to the Roadmap. Businesses committed to the roadmap also generated 90 per cent of the increase in food redistribution between 2018 and 2020, according to the paper, which saved 26,000 tonnes of food from entering the waste stream.

Certain sectors have made efforts to follow the Roadmap, according to the report -- there has been progress in the fields of retail; production and manufacturing; primary production; hospitality and foodservice; and within whole chain projects, WRAP outlines.


According to the report, the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap has been supported by all major grocery retailers since its launch, with each implementing the Target, Measure, Act system. Food waste levels have decreased by 15 per cent since public reporting of the 10 largest retailers began, equating to 35,000 tonnes of produce being diverted from the waste stream every year.

Production and Manufacturing

The number of producers and manufacturers committing to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap has increased from 47 to 209, according to the report, with 90 cent providing evidence of implementing Target, Measure, Act. Food waste reduced by 18 per cent over the past year on average of the 130 producers and manufacturers who shared their data, equating to 217,000 tonnes of food waste being saved from disposal.

Despite this improvement, the report also noted that 40 per cent of production and manufacturing companies saw an increase in food waste levels in comparison to their baselines, which is largely attributed to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Primary Production

The report assessed that approximately 50 farm businesses have undertaken measurements in compliance with the Roadmap to date. WRAP has also devised a practical model through which farmers and growers can be supported in the measurement of their on-farm food surplus and waste.

Hospitality and Food Service

In total, 29 hospitality and foodservice businesses have implemented the Target, Measure, Act system, according to the report, though there is not yet sufficient data to allow for the assessment of changes over time. WRAP is, however, working with the World Resources Institute in order to create a food loss and waste data capture sheet, in compliance with the international Food Loss and Waste Standard and the expectations of The Consumer Goods Forum.

Whole Chain Projects

The final area in which change has been enacted is within Whole Chain Projects. Whole Chain Projects refer to the collaboration of businesses across the supply chain, within which ways to reduce levels of food waste are identified.

So far, three Whole Chain Projects have been completed, by Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Abel and Cole respectively. The companies worked with their suppliers in order to identify opportunities to reduce waste. This has been carried out through reviewing varieties and product specifications at the primary stage; increasing the amount of surplus food that can be redistributed to charities; and supporting consumers to reduce their waste in the home with improved labelling and storage instructions. A further seven Whole Chain Projects are currently in progress.

In spite of the progress detailed in the report, WRAP is calling for additional action in reducing food waste ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The organisation outlines five key areas in which further changes can be made: increasing the amount of businesses getting involved in Whole Chain Plans; increasing the amount of businesses publicly reporting their food surplus and waste data in compliance with the Roadmap; increasing efforts to reduce food surplus on farm; increasing engagement with the hospitality and foodservice sectors in order to gain better quality food waste data; and increasing the promotion of initiatives, such as Love Food Hate Waste and Food Waste Action Week, by Roadmap supporters.

David Moon, Director of Collaboration and Change at WRAP, commented: “The high financial value of food saved by Roadmap businesses illustrates the importance of measuring and managing food that gets wasted. Given current commercial pressures on food businesses, this should be on the agenda for every CEO and Finance Director.

“Governments have said they will consult on making the reporting of food waste mandatory; I would encourage businesses to get ahead of policy and reap the rewards of adopting good practice. Moreover, this is a practical and cost saving way of contributing to corporate targets for reducing whole chain GHG emissions.”

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “Against a hugely challenging backdrop, the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap has continued to make significant progress in 2021, demonstrating the enormous appetite our industry has to drive positive change and be a force for good.

“As well as the environmental and social imperative for businesses to reduce their food waste, there’s also a compelling business case. Driving efficient supply chains and reducing waste should be a priority for businesses; it makes financial sense, helps communities, and is a key way businesses can deliver Net Zero climate targets.

“At IGD, we have an ambition to accelerate progress towards a sustainable food system; with COP26 just weeks away, now more than ever it is crucial we continue mobilising the food and consumer goods industry to tackle climate change and reduce food waste.”