An initiative to reduce product and packaging waste from the UK supply chain has cut 260,000 tonnes over five years.

Formed of 42 industry players, including retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, the IGD-led Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) Initiative challenged members to eliminate 200,000 tonnes of waste from the supply chain, equivalent to 480 million meals.

It announced this week it had exceeded that original target by 30%, cutting an annual rate of 52,000 tonnes from the waste stream since 2009.

“The IGD waste target focuses on preventing waste before it occurs and is far more challenging than a target to ­better manage waste if it has already occurred,” explained IGD’s ECR learning & change manager James Tupper.

“The objective of IGD’s work has been to inspire and enable companies to prevent or redistribute waste, to build understanding of the most effective solutions and to share this widely.”

ECR members reported the positive impact of individual schemes on cutting out waste, as opposed to total end-of-year figures for supply chain waste as collected by Wrap. They say it would therefore be unrepresentative to equate the tonnage saved as a ­proportion of total annual waste, but Wrap estimates there are about 6.5mt of waste in the ­supply chain a year.

Initiatives contributing to the final ­figure included a store ­education programme by Tesco and Silver Spoon to prevent sugar damage, which produced a like-for-like waste saving of 115 tonnes. And Booker cut 185 tonnes by cutting down on the film used to wrap mixed pallets.

“Although we have exceeded our targets, this is not a case of job done - IGD continues to facilitate the work of ECR’s Product & Packaging Workgroup to bring new businesses into the fold,” Tupper said.