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WRAP reveals edible food waste reductions but urges UK industry to accelerate progress

WRAP has released its annual progress reports for the UK food, textiles and plastics industries, detailing data regarding companies’ continued efforts to reach environmental targets. The report finds a reduction in edible food waste and concurrent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from companies involved in WRAP’s initiative, although it also highlights a need for an acceleration of efforts.

The report forms a part of WRAP’s voluntary Courtauld Commitment 2030, an agreement methodology whereby it proposes industry-wide agreements to reduce waste in a non-competitive manner. Companies involved in the agreement are delivering positive data as part of WRAP’s report.

“Our vision is for a thriving world in which climate change is no longer a problem,” Richard Swannell, Interim CEO of WRAP, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

“WRAP published progress reports for Textiles 2030, the UK Plastics Pact and Courtauld 2030. Within these pages are hundreds of examples of businesses already making sustainability changes that bring both environmental benefits for us all and deliver changes the public are anxious to see.”

“Those who have been part of the Courtauld Commitment for several years show the largest reduction in food waste, as part of an industry-wide agreement,” he details.

The Courtauld signatories are targeting a 50% per capita reduction in food waste by 2030 versus the UK 2007 baseline, covering manufacture, hospitality, food service and household.

“Our plans underpinning this vision are ambitious, collaborative and expansive, which is the only way to tackle climate change successfully. We urgently need to accelerate work across the UK and extend our work in the 40 countries we now work in to build on what we have achieved to date,” outlines Swannell.

“So for every business, it is imperative that they strive to reduce these if we are to have a hope of lessening the worse impacts of climate change.”

A long road ahead

WRAP’s report on food waste reduction lays a roadmap toward net zero emissions. This is the fourth year of the roadmap.

“Businesses are facing rising costs and supply chain challenges, and growing numbers of citizens are hungry globally through a cost-of-living crisis. Against this background, the ethical, environmental and economic case for reducing food waste and ensuring surplus ‘good food’ is always redistributed has become ever more critical,” says the report.

“Achieving the shared Courtauld 2030 and UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 targets to halve food waste by 2030 is a matter of food security and sustainable business,” it continues.

“With not much time left to achieve the 2030 target, it is incumbent upon all large food businesses in the UK to play their part in delivering SDG 12.3 by joining the growing numbers already committed to and implementing ‘Target, Measure, Act.’”

The report detailed improved data from 2021, but still a need for acceleration.

“Three-hundred and fifty one committed organizations (which also includes trade bodies, redistribution organizations, companies involved in waste management and others), an increase of 10% since last year,” it reads.

“Two-hundred and twenty one large businesses have implemented ‘Target, Measure, Act’ in the past year, an increase of 7%. Eighty-nine percent of large businesses have committed, following through on that commitment by providing evidence of implementing ‘Target, Measure, Act,’ showing an expansion of capabilities amongst Roadmap supporters.”

Despite this progress, WRAP feels it is not enough, and stresses the need for all involved to accelerate positive change.

“COP27 made it clear that we are not on track to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Accelerating action by businesses is paramount,” says Catherine David, director of collaboration and change at WRAP.

“Today’s reports show the mountain we need to climb, and we call on all businesses to join us on this journey and be part of changing our consumption systems in line with a sustainable future.”

The efforts have resulted in both a diminishing of lost profits and an improvement in GHG emission cuts.

“For retailers that provided comparable tonnage data for 2018 and 2021, a reduction in food waste by over 19,000 metric tons (8%), equivalent to almost US$75.2 million of food that did not end up as waste, whose production would have been associated with 60,000 metric tons of GHG emissions,” says the report.

This report comes after another recent report detailed the financial benefits producers experience when committing to food waste reduction at every level.

Producers and manufacturers committed to the roadmap have shared their most recent data, which forms part of this year’s report.

The report details an overall reduction in the amount of edible food waste produced compared to previous baselines. One hundred fifty-five businesses produced 42,400 metric tons less edible food waste in 2021 compared to their first reports (which vary from between 2021 and 2020). Producers and manufacturers showed a 1.3% reduction in edible food waste.

The report does note that despite this reduction in edible food waste, there has been a general increase in total food waste.


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