Grocery sector cuts supply chain waste

17 October 2012

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17 October 2012 | Anna Reynolds

The UK grocery sector has beaten targets to reduce waste in its supply chain, according to latest figures released last week by waste prevention organisation WRAP.

The results show supply chain waste was 8.8 per cent lower in 2011 than in 2009, which is ahead of the three-year target of 5 per cent. Retailers have been reducing the amount of waste in their supply chain by increasing the rate of food and packaging waste being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion plants on or offsite and through composting. The weight of packaging has also been reduced.

Packaging waste was down by 8.2 per cent in 2011, with a target of 10 per cent by 2012. Figures for household waste were last collected in 2010 and stood at 3 per cent, on track for the proposed reduction of 4 per cent by 2012.

The Courtauld Commitment was launched by WRAP in 2005 and is a voluntary agreement backed by the government that supports UK businesses reducing their environmental impact through efficient waste management.

Since its launch in 2005, more than 40 major retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and suppliers have signed the agreement. The retailers represent 92 per cent of the UK’s grocery supermarkets.

Phase two of the commitment began in 2010 and introduced supply chain waste production as an area of focus. Other targets of the commitment are to reduce the weight of grocery packaging, increase the recycled content of packaging and reduce UK household food and drink waste.

WRAP congratulated signatories in diverting waste from landfill but called for a ‘combined’ effort from these businesses and trade bodies for continued success. Richard Swannell, director at WRAP, said: “These are good results and indicative of the hard work that signatories have been putting in to be more resource efficient, benefiting of the environment and their bottom line. However, there is more to do.

“The reduction in supply chain waste is particularly important given it’s a new area for Courtauld. In this, its final year, we are continuing to work with the sector to help ensure the Courtauld phase two targets are met in full.”

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