food waste

More than 100 food and drink companies and organisations have launched what they have billed as a pioneering battle against food waste.

The Courtauld Commitment 2025 today saw an industry pledge to cut food and drink waste in the UK by 20%, alongside a promised 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity from food and drink consumed.

The charity Wrap, which is overseeing the project, was unable to agree proposals for a similar reduction in water use in time for the launch but has pledged that this will be added in the future.

Wrap said the commitment, which for the first time brings together waste reduction efforts across the food retail and supply sectors with that of the hospitality sectors and also includes for the first time local authorities and NGOs, went further than any of the previous Courtauld Commitments. These have seen three phases of efforts to reduce packaging waste and food waste from the industry and households dating back to 2005. However, the new agreement is much more focused on food waste than when Courtauld set out with a brief mainly to reduce packaging waste.

Wrap said if it was successful Courtauld 2025 would slash the UK’s waste bill by £20bn within a decade.

“To safeguard UK food we need a step-change to increase sustainable food and drink production and consumption”

Dr Richard Swannell, Wrap

New signatories that had not backed the previous efforts include frozen food giant Birds Eye and discount retailer Lidl. All the major UK food retailers, representing over 93% of the market, backed the scheme, as did most of the leading suppliers and local authorities representing almost half of the country.

However, the food waste reduction target falls short of last month’s pledge by the Scottish government that it would to cut food waste by a third by 2025, claiming it will save businesses and households across the country at least £500m.

But Wrap said the commitment would drive best practice through its “unique” whole-system approach to the way food and drink is produced, sold and consumed in the UK and for the first time it will bring all parties together under one voluntary agreement to achieve collective goals.

“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,” said Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at the charity.

“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.”

“Food waste - at any stage from the farm to the house - is something we should avoid. It wastes precious water and resources,” said resources minister Rory Stewart.

“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 10%. And this team-work and leadership should allow us to go much further.”