Food sector to cut waste by 20% by 2025

21 March 2016

Food sector organisations across the UK have signed up to a new agreement to reduce the environmental impact of the food supply chain.

Food suppliers, local authorities and other trade organisations have signed up to the The Courtauld Commitment 2025, along with all the major UK food retailers covering 93% of the sector market share.

The commitment aims achieve a 20% reduction in food and drink waste, greenhouse gases and water use in the supply chain.

Resource efficiency charity WRAP which launched the commitment, said that reducing the resource intensity of the UKs food and drink sector by a fifth would and save £20bn.

WRAP will work directly with industry stakeholders to embed sustainable practices into the design, buying and sourcing of food, to optimise resource efficiency throughout supply chains. It will also work to influence consumption behaviour and reduce waste in the home, as well as look for ways to use surplus and waste food.

Companies including Compass, Sodexo, Associated British Foods, Unilever and Nestlé UK, along with the major super markets have all singed up. Some 24 local authorities including the London Waste and Recycling Board representing more than 42% of the UKs population have also joined the voluntary agreement. The British Hospitality Association, Dairy UK, the Food Standards Agency and the WWF are also among the other signatories.

They will work together with WRAP to identify opportunities to save resources which can be shared across the entire supply chain, and to make the whole system more sustainable and resilient to supply chain disruptions.

Signatories also commit to implementing changes, measuring the benefits, and helping other businesses and people to realise savings.

WRAP said local authorities and trade bodies would be vital in helping engage people and raise awareness to a wider range of businesses outside of the main signatory base.

Most of the savings will be enjoyed by individuals, WRAP said, with around £4 billion in business savings possible. The Commitment will also help the UK to get on track to halve household and retail waste.

Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, said that the pressures of resource scarcity, population growth and changing climate would have profound effects on food supply and business efficiency. 

To safeguard UK food we need a step-change to increase sustainable food and drink production and consumption, conserve resources and combat climate change. Courtauld 2025 will do this,he said.

This is an ambitious undertaking and having key signatories on board on day one puts us in a strong position at the start of this new era for our food industry.

Resources minister Rory Stewart, said: Under the last framework we have already reduced food waste in the supply chain by 10%. And this team-work and leadership should allow us to go much further.” 

Meanwhile, Tesco said it was rolling out a nationwide initiative to dramatically reduce the amount of food that goes to waste, by giving millions of meals of surplus food to charity by the end of 2017.

The scheme, Community Food Connection with FareShare FoodCloud is being launched in 15 cities and regions across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton and Portsmouth.

Tesco said that it plans to be operating the system in all 800 large stores by the end of the year, with all stores covered by the end of 2017.

Community Food Connection is powered by FareShare FoodCloud, an open platform that helps store colleagues and charities work together. The system also uses a Food Surplus Application, developed by TAAP, which integrates with the platform.

Tesco CEO Dave Lewis said: We know its an issue our customers really care about, and wherever theres surplus food at Tesco stores, were committed to donating it to local charities so we can help feed people in need.

But we know the challenge is bigger than this and thats why weve made a farm to fork commitment to reduce food waste upstream with our suppliers and in our own operations and downstream in our customersown homes.

The scheme has already been piloted in 14 Tesco stores over the past six months and has generated over 22 tonnes of food.

Tesco and FareShare are calling for 5,000 charities and community groups to join up and receive free surplus food through the scheme.

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