“This is the first time Britain’s top grocery retailers, brands and manufacturers have commited to an industry-wide food waste reduction objective,” said a spokesperson for the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) which is leading the initiative.
Part of the organisation’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, the iniatiative is predicted to save UK consumers more than £370m and should eliminate the release of nearly 700,000t of carbon dioxide. That’ an equivalent saving to taking 220,000 cars off the road for a year, calculates WRAP.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery products, dairy, meat and fish products are the biggest sources of household food waste, according to WRAP. The latest initiative will focus on eliminating waste by developing more effective labeling; pack size range, storage advice and packaging to keep food fresher for longer.
A number of retailers have already implemented initiatives to reduce food waste as part of the Courtauld Commitment. This is a voluntary agreement between WRAP and major UK grocery organizations to minisize packaging and to cut food waste.
As part of its wider food waste strategy, WRAP is working with the Courtauld signatories, UK Governments and industry partners to develop and implement category-specific action plans.
Signatories include Sainsbury’s, which has implemented new fresh fruit and vegetable storage guidance for customers, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Warburtons, Tesco and ASDA.
Welcoming the campaign, Liz Goodwin, WRAP chief executive officer said: “This pledge signals a concerted and consistent approach by the grocery industry to reduce household food waste. Taking action under the Courtauld Commitment will help the grocery sector reduce the carbon impact of food waste while delivering significant cost savings straight to the consumer pocket. We want to see packaging innovation and advice to help shoppers make positive product choices and make the best use of the food they buy, therefore reducing the amount of waste.”
Defra environment minister Jane Kennedy said: “I warmly welcome this commitment, which will ensure that not only are supermarkets, brand leaders and food processors now working to reduce food waste, but it will also help their customers buy wisely and thus reduce the cost to them.”
According to WRAP, UK consumers throw away about one third of all the food they buy amounting to 6.7m tonnes each year worth £10bn.