Stores such as Asda, Sainsbury’s, the Co-operative, Marks & Spencer and Morrisons will collectively release regular figures on the amount of food discarded by stores from spring 2015.

The commitment was published by the British Retail Consortium today (29 January), who held  an event at the House of Commons called ‘A Better Retailing Climate’ to launch the announcement.

The BRC said the supermarkets signed up to the initiative have committed to publish their data on food waste created at the retail stage, along with annual progress reports, and are working with consumers to help cut food waste in the home.

The new agreement includes a commitment to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80%, and to divert less than 1% of waste to landfill, by 2020.

A total of 15m tonnes of food are discarded every year in the UK, according to figures from the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap).

British Retail consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers in the UK have made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment.  I’m delighted that the signatories are pushing themselves to achieve against even more ambitious commitments, having gone above and beyond the last set of targets.

 “The strength of commitment is plain to see when you look at how much progress has been made in the last decade: for example, only 6% of waste was sent to landfill in 2013, down from 47% in 2005. 

“But retailers will continue to keep this momentum going: they recognise that it makes business sense and delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers.”

 Environment Secretary Owen Paterson added: “This initiative has been very successful in showing how industry can reduce the environmental impact of the retail sector.  

“It also highlights how it is possible to grow businesses in a sustainable way that is not only good for the environment but for the economy as well.”

Elsewhere, the BRC said that the retail industry will also commit to cutting absolute carbon emissions by 25%, based on 2005 levels, by 2020. That compares to a European target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.

Between 2005 and 2013 retailers have cut total emissions from their stores by just 8% because more outlets have opened, offsetting an average 30% cut in the amount of carbon emitted per store.

Liz Gyekye



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