123 Pledge: WRAP urges governments and businesses to embed food waste action in climate plans

Food loss and waste is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions. Stock image.

WRAP stated last year that food waste accounts for 8-10% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions, but revealed that most British adults were unaware of the link between food waste and climate change.

As such, the new ‘123 Pledge’ has been launched to encourage “important actors in the food system”, including governments, businesses and chefs, to recognise the emission reduction benefits of reducing food waste and to properly join-up their action on waste reduction and climate action.

WRAP, along with WWF and Rabobank, is acting as a supporter for the Pledge. The co-ordinators will be the UN’s Environment Programme and Food and Agriculture Organisation, alongside Champions 12.3.

Organisations taking the Pledge are required to commit to halving food loss and waste by 2030, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 12.3. They will need to meet requirements on reporting progress towards this goal annually, beginning with a first report in time for this disclosure to be included in the Global Stocktake concluding at COP28 in Dubai next winter.

Crucially, commitments to halve food waste must “have a climate angle”. Companies and countries are being encouraged to integrate goals and measurements on preventing food loss and waste into climate strategies.

WRAP is emphasising that, in taking the new Pledge, organisations are also supporting efforts to help the general public through the cost of living crisis. The body’s previous research has revealed that British homes typically spend £780 per year on food that gets thrown away, with waste at the consumer level continuing to account for the majority of the national annual food waste mountain. WRAP believes that the amount of money embedded in food wasted in homes across Europe and North America is fairly similar.

Early supporters of the new Pledge include the government of the Netherlands, the Costa Rica FLW Network, Unilever and Rabobank.

Commenting on the Pledge’s launch, the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) director of food loss and waste Liz Goodwin said: “Food loss and waste drives up to 10% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, yet just a handful of countries mention it in their national climate plans. None of the world’s biggest emitters are on that list. Despite some real bright spots, the world is woefully behind where it needs to be. Without real action to halve food loss and waste, it will be very difficult to solve the climate crisis.”

Retail Survey

Earlier this week, WRAP published its latest Retail Survey, tracking the actions which the UK’s biggest food retailers are – and are not – taking to help reduce food waste at the consumer level. Between 60% and 70% of the UK’s food waste in recent years has been generated by households.

The report notes that most retailers are implementing WRAP’s recommendation of removing ‘use-by’ dates and ‘best-before dates’ on fresh fruit and veggies. These dates, research has found, can prompt many home cooks to throw out food which is still good to eat.

Strong progress is also recorded in improving defrosting advice; removing labels telling consumers to use meats and hard cheeses within a certain number of days of opening; and in clarifying which food can be frozen.

However, WRAP wants retailers to do more to indicate which items keep longer in the fridge, including fresh produce. It has tracked the removal of labelling on this topic.

“WRAP’s survey shows the great strides taken by retailers in helping people to tackle food waste, but also how much work there is still to do,” summarised Environment Minister Rebecca Pow.

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