Voluntary agreement sees UK retailers cut 80,000 tonnes of waste

Britain's manufacturers and retailers have reduced their ingredient, product and packaging waste by 80,000 tonnes since 2012, thanks to a voluntary agreement organised by WRAP.

52 major grocery retailers, household brands and manufacturers are currently signed up to WRAP's agreement

52 major grocery retailers, household brands and manufacturers are currently signed up to WRAP's agreement

The second interim report of WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 3, which is funded by all four UK governments, reveals a 3.2% drop in manufacturing and retail waste against the 2012 baseline – ahead of the 3% overall target by 2015.

Signatories of the Commitment, which includes the ‘big four’ supermarkets, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mondelez International and Nestlé, have also already exceeded the 2015 target of maintaining a zero-increase in levels of carbon emissions, with these latest figures showing a sustained positive reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 3.9%.

Big benefits

“What makes Courtauld so effective is the sector-wide approach to tackling the most impactful areas - not just thinking about what will help your business, but what will make a more environmentally and economically effective supply chain,” said WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems Dr Richard Swannell.

Changes in the mix of packaging materials and increases in recycling rates resulted in the overall reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, despite packaging weight actually increasing by 0.7% over this same period.  This increase in packaging weight was primarily single-use transit packaging rather than household (primary) packaging, which continues to decrease by weight. 

There are currently 53 companies signed up to the Courtauld Commitment, including major grocery retailers, household brands and manufacturers. Phase 3 runs for three years from 2013 to 2015, with the packaging and emissions targets expected to save an estimated 1.1 million tonnes of waste, 2.9 million tonnes of CO2 and have a cost benefit to consumers, food and drink sector and local authorities of £1.6bn.


Another area of positive progress detailed in this latest update is the redistribution of surplus food. Although not a specific target under the Courtauld Commitment, it does contribute towards the manufacturing and retail target, and WRAP estimates the level of redistribution to have increased by three quarters on the 2012 baseline, currently standing at around 20,000 tonnes of surplus food.

Commenting on the figures, Resource Minister Rory Stewart said: “From farm to fork we all have a responsibility to waste less food. These latest figures reflect a lot of hard work from across the food and packaging supply chain and I want to congratulate the whole sector for coming together to cut waste, reduce packaging and increase food redistribution.”

Another key target within the agreement is to reduce household food and drink waste by 5% on 2012 levels by the end of 2015. Progress against the household food waste target is not collected annually, and 2015 data will be available for final year reporting in 2016.

WRAP is currently in the process of developing ‘Courtauld 2025’, a new farm-to-fork, industry-wide commitment to build on the work of the Courtauld Commitment, the Product Sustainability Forum and the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement. Courtauld 2025 begins in 2016 and will focus on ‘optimising system-wide outcomes’. 

Luke Nicholls


| Food waste | manufacturing | packaging | retail | supply chain | WRAP


Waste & resource management
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