When did WRAP start working with organisations from other countries and how did this come about?
Our first major overseas activity came through participation in EU projects such as Fusions in 2012 and ReBus in 2013. We also started to license our ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These activities helped to establish WRAP’s reputation internationally.
It was a natural progression to decide, in 2018, to create WRAP Global, and use the expertise we have built up in the UK through working with governments, businesses and citizens, and bring it to an international stage.
The problems we are tackling are global and need a global solution. We want to play our part in putting the world on the trajectory to delivering UN Sustainable Development Goals 12.3 and 12.5. To do that, we need to influence and support countries and businesses in developing strategies for food loss and waste prevention, and reducing waste through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
WRAP uses a combination of seeking out potential partners and networks we could work with as well as responding to those who increasingly come to us based on our reputation. The UN goals gave everything greater impetus, particularly 12.3 and the global commitment to halve food waste by 2030.
Does being a British organisation stand WRAP in better stead?
Not being ‘British’ per se, but it is the UK’s leadership on food waste and plastics that we draw on and which is acknowledged as being pioneering.
The UK has been taking action on sustainability matters such as food waste reduction and circular economy for a long time and is seen as a world leader. Other countries find that accessing the experience and knowledge this has brought us helps them to accelerate action to tackle issues such as climate change and pollution.
It is important to say that we use the expertise and experience we have gleaned in the UK, but we contextualise our support and recommendations to the country or region we are working in. There are obviously ways in which we need to adapt to particular circumstances – for example, in areas where recycling infrastructures are different or food waste challenges vary.
We have some core principles which give the basis for success, such as in running voluntary agreements, which are made into a ‘blueprint’ to be shared for those who might adopt the same model.
What does WRAP offer in other countries that they cannot find more locally?
Working in partnership is at the heart of WRAP Global’s philosophy. We partner with established not-for-profit organisations in each target country and with major international organisations and businesses. The combination of WRAP’s approach, expertise and experience, along with the local knowledge and contacts of our partners is proving to be a very effective model, enabling our small UK team to have real global impact.
In which countries does it anticipate most demand for its services?
It is probably fair to say that in the areas we focus on – food waste, plastic pollution and the impact of clothing – these are truly monumental global challenges which no country, wherever it is, can afford not to tackle. The impact of climate change will not be reversed if we do not tackle these head-on.
”The UK has been taking action on sustainability matters such as food waste reduction and circular economy for a long time and is seen as a world leader.”
This is growing in terms of public interest and urgency, certainly helped by the worldwide awakening to the issue of plastic pollution, and subsequent government and business action. The global interconnectedness of our world, through the internet, is also helping to create a sense of shared responsibility.
Currently, we are working with around 20 countries ranging from Singapore and China to Canada and Mexico, with partners from around the world. We are seeing increasing levels of demand for our services. We are focusing on countries where we believe we can have the most positive impact for the world, where large populations and inadequate awareness or infrastructure threatens increased levels of waste, pollution and all the associated impacts of those problems.
Peter Maddox is director at WRAP UK