Courtauld Commitment 3 set to target lifecycle of products

WRAP's next generation of voluntary agreements for the retail supply chain is likely to tackle issues around products, product design and lifecycle impacts.

Speaking at this week’s LARAC conference in Kenilworth (October 20), on a potential successor agreement to Courtauld Commitment 2, WRAP’s special adviser Mark Barthel, told delegates that a Product Research Forum had been set up to inform this work.

Drawing on lessons learned during the current Courtauld 2 phase, Barthel said that WRAP plans to consider what will be included within a voluntary agreement. He explained that a broader range of metrics were needed to measure waste reduction in the product supply chain and cited WRAP’s introduction of a carbon reduction target as one example.

This, he said, had not only optimised the use of packaging and reduced packaging waste, but also encouraged businesses to use more recycled content and to work with local authorities to increase recycling rates.

“We have an issue around products because 60% of the total environmental impacts arise from our household use and consumption,” he told delegates. “How do we tackle these consumption issues and how do we design products so that we waste less and we use them to maximum potential?”

Barthel said the purpose of the Product Research Forum was to create a harmonised approach to resolving these issues, bringing together major retailers and manufacturers with NGOs and government.

“This is what we do so well with voluntary agreements,” he said. “We bring these companies together, get them going in the same direction and agree that same direction using resources sustainably and then helping consumers consume more sustainably.”

Barthel added that WRAP had developed a product knowledge pathway, which would help the forum devise strategies to reduce the environmental impact of individual products.

“We are building a fairly impressive knowledge base where we are summarising all of the work on lifecycle analysis that we’ve done across those products and identifying the impact reduction opportunities and creating a library of materials and information,” he concluded.

“We are providing members of the forum with the opportunity to rapid footprint their products so that we can get a better idea of what they are doing.”

Nick Warburton

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