Tesco plans to scrap shrink wrap for tinned products as part of plans to elimate 1bn items of plastic in 2020 © AFP/Getty Images
Tesco plans to scrap shrink wrap for tinned products as part of plans to elimate 1bn items of plastic in 2020 © AFP/Getty Images

Food waste falls by half a million tonnes

24 January 2020

The amount of food wasted in the UK has fallen by almost half a million tonnes in three years as a result of “accelerated action” from businesses and households, according to a report.

The report, published by sustainability charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), found there was a 7% reduction in food waste per person in the UK between 2015 and 2018. 

In its Courtauld Commitment 2025 Milestone Progress Report, which has analysed levels of food waste since 2007, the total amount of food waste in the UK measured 9.5m tonnes in 2018, down from 10m tonnes in 2015. Levels of food waste were 1.7m tonnes a year lower than in 2007.

The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement which aims to bring organisations across the food system together to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable by 2025. 

Targets included a 20% per person reduction in food and drink waste, 20% per person reduction in the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with production and consumption of food and drink and a reduction in impact associated with water use and water stress in the supply chain.

The report found there had been a 7% reduction in GHGs associated with food consumption and production. The majority of the reduction was due to decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity grid, the report said. 

WRAP also found there had been a 4% reduction in food waste in the supply chain, showing “good overall progress from businesses”, but it warned many more businesses must “step up their action” if they are to halve wastage by 2030. 

In 2018 WRAP, in partnership with IDG, launched the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. Over 150 brands, including Aldi, Costa, and Unilever, have committed to halve food waste by 2030. 

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, said: “We are starting to wake up to the reality of food waste, but we are too often turning a blind eye to what is happening in our homes. 

“We are all thinking about what we can do for the environment and this is one of the most simple and powerful ways we can play our part. By wasting less food, we are helping to tackle the biggest challenges this century – feeding the world whilst protecting our planet.”

Meanwhile, Tesco has announced plans to scrap shrink wrap on its own-brand tinned products and those of brands including Heinz, Green Giant, Branston, and John West. 

Tins will be available individually, with no plastic wrap holding them together but will be eligible for multibuy deals. 

Tesco said no further plastic-wrapped multipacks would be ordered after 2 March while remaining stock will be allowed to sell-through. The move would see 67m items – approximately 350m tonnes – of plastic eliminated each year.

In November 2019, Tesco announced an aim to remove 1bn pieces of plastic from own-brand products for sale in UK stores by the end of 2020. 

Earlier in 2019, Tesco met with suppliers to explain its strategy to reduce packaging, which may lead to it removing suppliers’ products from shelves if they fail to comply.

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