UK business giants commit to ‘world-first’ Roadmap to halve food waste

Some of the UK's largest supermarkets, hospitality firms and food and drink manufacturers have committed to a "world-first" initiative from WRAP to halve food waste by measuring and acting on wastage levels across a "farm-to-fork" approach.

A total of 89 organisations have committed to reducing the UK’s annual £20bn food waste costs, through WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. The initiative encompasses the entire food supply chain, with producers, manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and food service companies announced as early adopters of the cause.

UK supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer (M&S), Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose will use a Target-Measure-Act approach to identify ways of reducing surplus unsold food. Further down the supply chain, food and drink manufacturers including Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), Unilever, Kraft Heinz UK, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, Nestle and Procter & Gamble will use a similar approach to combatting food waste.

The Roadmap, built in partnership with charity IGD, has set a one-year goal to enrol 50% of all major retailers and large food businesses in the UK to the programme. By 2026, it is hoped the 250 largest UK companies across the two sectors will be added to the programme. 

According to WRAP, the programme aligns with the aims of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UK’s own Courtauld 2025 Commitment to reduce food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of the retailers to sign up to the Roadmap are part of the Champions 12.3 initiative, the coalition of government, business and civil society leaders which aims to accelerate progress towards the SDG of halving global food waste by 2030. Research from the coalition suggests that for every £1 spent on tackling food waste, firms could save around £4.50.

WRAP’s chief executive Marcus Gover said: “Together, WRAP and IGD have mobilised industry leaders to create a bold sector-wide Roadmap, showing clearly what UK businesses must do. This Roadmap is hugely ambitious, and I’m delighted that the UK is the first country anywhere to set a nation-wide plan towards delivering its part in SDG 12.3.

“There are many businesses working hard already, but many more need to focus on food waste. If the food sector follows this Roadmap it will significantly accelerate work to achieving both Courtauld 2025, and SDG12.3 targets. And I urge other companies to adopt the principles laid out in the Roadmap and join the rest of the sector on this historic journey.”

Government support

The Roadmap details ways that businesses can engage with consumers to help reduce the estimated 10 million tonnes of food waste generated annually. The initiative will also be supported by Defra, the Welsh and Scottish Governments and sector organisations including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Hospitality firms including Nandos and Pizza Hut and food service firms like BaxterStorey and Compass have also pledged support. Guidance will be given for all business members on food surplus and food waste measurement and reporting, consistent with the international Food Loss & Waste Standard (FLW Standard).

Gover will also launch the world’s first global reporting portal for food loss and waste data later today. Developed by WRAP and WRI, The Food Waste Atlas enables companies and governments to publish and compare data.

The amount of food wasted globally each year is set to rise by a third by 2030 without “urgent and aggressive” action from nations and corporates, according to a report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie