The results of the first phase of the voluntary Courtauld Commitment show that the UK’s grocery sector has prevented 1.2million tonnes of food and packaging waste.
Figures published today by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) show that a total of 670,000 tonnes of food waste and 520,000 tonnes of packaging have been avoided across the UK between 2005 and 2009 as a result of the voluntary responsibility deal between the UK grocery sector and WRAP, delivered in partnership with local authorities.
The results demonstrate that two out of the three Courtauld targets have been achieved. These were to design out packaging waste growth, which was achieved in 2008, and to reduce food waste by 155,000 tonnes per year, which was exceeded with 270,000 tonnes per year less food waste arising in 2009/10 than in 2007/08.
The third target which is to reduce the total amount of packaging waste over the same period has not yet been achieved as total packaging has remained consistent at around 2.9million tonnes between 2006 and 2009.
The main reason given for failure to meet this target is the 6.4% increase in grocery sales volumes since the voluntary agreement began in 2005.
Commenting on the results WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “This is good progress particularly against the backdrop of an unexpected increase in grocery sales.
“We’re especially pleased with the food waste reduction which is way beyond target. It shows how a collaborative approach between the grocery sector, consumers and local authorities can work to reduce waste and save people money.”
Goodwin also emphasised the importance of the next phase of the Courtauld commitment which focuses on the wider carbon impact of packaging.
She said: “39 major retailers, brands and manufacturers are on board with that [Courtauld Phase 2] so the future looks promising. But there’s always more that can be done and we are working closely with the industry to help reduce the environmental impact of things we all buy.”
Environment Minister Lord Henley commented that today’s results show “real progress” and they were also welcomed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) which described the reduction in food and packaging waste over the last five years as “spectacular”.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “The huge fall in food waste is the best news and a tribute to retailers’ work with customers, supported by WRAP and local authority initiatives.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) added that the results are a “good start” but chairman Gary Porter warned that there is “no room for complacency.”