Courtald Commitment hails greener packaging, increased food redistribution

WRAP's Courtauld Commitment Phase 3 has seen 80% more food being redistributed by retailers and food manufacturers, and a 4.5% reduction of the carbon impacts of packaging in its first year.

The organisation today (22 January) released the first-year results of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3 – a voluntary agreement supporting retail businesses to improve their overall performance and reduce their environmental impact. 

Food waste prevention efforts have seen food donations rise from 21kt in 2012 to 38kt in 2013, and companies are well ahead of a 2015 target of zero increase in the carbon impact of packaging; through reductions in packaging, an increase in recycled content and the use of different materials.

There has been almost no change in the amount of overall manufacturing and retail waste, although signatories have reported an increase in recycling and recovery with less material going to sewer or disposal.

“Progress on the packaging target has exceeded expectations and redistribution has increased significantly,” director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP Dr Richard Swannell. “There is still much to do before the end of this third phase though, with the biggest challenge being the manufacturing and retail target. We will be working closely with signatories to help ensure all the targets are met.”

Cost benefits

The Courtauld Commitment is funded by all four UK governments, and run by waste prevention advisory body WRAP. The three targets of the agreement are to reduce the carbon impact of packaging, and reduce waste in the grocery manufacturing and supply chain both by 3%, and reduce household food and drink waste by 5% on 2012 levels by the end of 2015.

There are 53 companies signed up to the agreement, including major grocery retailers, household brands and manufacturers.  Achieving its three targets would 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.

Earlier this week, edie reported that the UK’s seven major supermarkets – all of which are signed up to the Courtald Commitment – contributed to just 1.3% of all food waste in 2013, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Of the estimated 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK each year, 200,000 tonnes comes from these retailers, while more than half is generated in the home.

Lucinda Dann

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