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Supermarkets ‘to publish food waste stats’

Food waste recycling

Environmental charity Feedback has claimed a “major victory” following reports that UK supermarkets have agreed to routinely publish their food waste data in a standardised format.

Currently, the largest supermarket chains supply food waste data to WRAP as an aggregated figure.

Only Tesco and Sainsbury’s publish their food waste data voluntarily, but use different methodologies.

Feedback said reports that the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) had brokered an agreement with supermarkets to publish standardised data was a “breakthrough”.

The charity said: “This is a major step forward, an important validation of our long-term position on food waste transparency, and an indication of the growing global ambition to slow the avalanche of food wasted every year.”

Feedback said reporting on food waste allows retailers to identify hotspots and and prevent it occurring in the first place.

“Now we need to keep the pressure up to make supermarkets follow through and work towards reducing food waste across their supply chains.”

Tesco was the first supermarket to publish its food waste data in 2013-14. In 2016-17 it recorded 46,684 tonnes of food waste, which is 0.47% of total food sales.

Waitrose includes food data as part of overall organic waste, and earlier this year said it was working with a new contractor to isolate food. Morrisons considers waste collectively across all material streams.

IGD statement

Earlier this year, the IGD was asked by a number of companies to facilitate discussions on standardising the measurement of food waste in the UK. Our goal is to enable and promote a consistent approach throughout the supply chain, aligned with the global Food Loss and Waste Protocol and the UN Champions 12.3 clarification document.

Consistent measurement would be a significant step forward for the UK food sector in its support of the UN’s drive for global waste reduction under Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

Agreement has been reached among many leading food retailers and their suppliers on a series of principles. The next steps for these companies are to apply the principles, refine their measurement method and check for comparability. The implications for reporting the information are also being discussed.

We are working closely with WRAP and this will continue over the next year, to maintain momentum on a highly important issue.

This builds on a legacy of work by the IGD to reduce food waste. From 2010-2015, through our ECR group of supply chain directors, we oversaw a range of projects that resulted in 260,000 tonnes of product and packaging waste eliminated from the chain. We also reached over one million people working in our sector with advice on how to reduce food waste in their role as consumers.

  • This article was updated on 20 November 2017 to include the IGD statement

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