More than 100 of Britain’s leading retail brands and supermarkets have pledged to drive down food and drink waste by a fifth within the next decade.
Retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons are backing a voluntary agreement, which also targets a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions created by the food and drink industry.
Signatories announced at the launch of the agreement include the world’s largest food and drink manufacturers, and all the major UK retailers; representing over 93% of the 2016 UK market share.
The agreement also includes some 24 local authorities, including the London Water and Recycling Board, and major brands and manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pizza Hut have also committed to the agreement produced by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
The charity, working on behalf of the government hailed the deal as the first of its kind and said it would usher in a “new era” for the industry. It comes days after the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, committed to sending no surplus food to waste and donate all unsold food from its stores to charity.
The agreement, called the Courtauld Commitment 2025, is estimated to save around £20bn and will help the UK meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by retailers and consumers by 2030.
Annual food waste from UK households, hospitality and food service, food manufacture and the retail and wholesale sectors amounts to around 12m tonnes, 75% of which could have been avoided, according to studies by Wrap. The waste was valued at more than £19bn a year, and was associated with at least 20m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Dr Richard Swannell, Director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, said:
“The pressures of resource scarcity, population growth and our changing climate will have profound effects on our food supply in the coming years, 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.
“Collaboration has never been more important, which is why I want to thank the businesses and organisations that have committed to taking action. 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. I look forward to welcoming other leading organisations as signatories over the coming weeks, months and years and delivering this ambitious agreement.”
Resources Minister Rory Stewart, said:
“Food waste – at any stage from the farm to the house – is something we should avoid. It wastes precious water and resources. So I am delighted that this great group of food and drink companies has come together with WRAP to reduce our food waste.
“Under the last framework we have already reduced food waste in the supply chain by ten per cent. And this team-work and leadership should allow us to go much further.”
Photo Credit: Nic Taylor from Flickr.