WRAP reports Resource Revolution progress in latest Annual Review

The launch of the Courtauld Commitment 2025, the development of a series of robust resource efficiency campaigns and the brokering of voluntary agreements across various sectors represent some of the key highlights in WRAP's Annual Review.

In its 2015-16 annual report, released this week, the resource efficiency charity sets out its achievements and performance for the four sectors it pays closest attention to – food and drink, clothing and textiles, electricals and electronics, and resource management.

In the food and drink sector, WRAP’s key achievements include an 80,000-tonne reduction in product and packaging waste used by UK retailers and food manufacturers since 2012 – made possible through the organisation’s Courtauld Commitment 3 scheme and the subsequent launch of the Courtauld Commitment 2025, which has brought together organisations representing 93% of the UK food retail market to reduce the sector’s environment impact.

Speaking at the launch of that revamped Courtauld Commitment back in March, WRAP’s director of sustainable food systems Richard Swannell said: “The pressures of resource scarcity, population growth and our changing climate will have profound effects on our food supply in the coming years, and business efficiency. To safeguard UK food we need a step-change to increase sustainable food and drink production and consumption, conserve resources and combat climate change.

Meanwhile, signatories to WRAP’s Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA) reported good progress after two years of the voluntary agreement, achieving a reduction in CO2e emissions of 3.6% in 2014 relative to the baseline year 2012, and an increase in the recycling rate of food and packaging waste of 12% to 57%. The estimated cost saving from reducing food waste alone was £3.6 million.

Sustainable clothing

In terms of textiles & clothing performance, WRAP announced that members of its Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 (SCAP 2020) – including UK retailers and manufacturers from across the clothing supply chain – had made significant progress in decreasing water impacts, with 12.5% reductions per tonne of clothing against a 15% reduction target by 2020.

The organisation’s Sustainable Clothing research, developed with the help of SCAP members, highlighted the methods that retailers and brands can implement to extend the active life of clothes in order to unlock sustainable and fiscal benefits. Highstreet retailer Primark recently announced it will work alongside WRAP to acquire more sustainable fibre choices while also working to incorporate recycled materials over virgin options.

As a charity, WRAP plans to divert 90,000 tonnes of clothing away from landfill each year in Europe by 2019 and has recently received a €3.6m fund from the European Union to implement schemes across 11 countries.

Trade-in service

Over the past twelve months, WRAP has been working with electricals and electronics organisations across the product life cycle to extend product durability and gain greater value from re-use and recycling.

New signatories such as Tesco and the Scottish Institute for Remanufacturing joined WRAP’s Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sustainability Plan (esap), a collaborative framework for sharing evidence and implementing sector-wide actions to improve business efficiency and the sustainability of electrical and electronic products.

Specifically, WRAP partnered with Argos with its rollout of a gadget trade-in service across the retailer’s 788 UK stores, a scheme which offers an immediate quote and redemption for unwanted mobile phones and tablet devices.

Argos’ head of corporate responsibility Amy Whidburn said: “By working with WRAP, we’ve been able to find the most effective path for our business to offer this and achieve wide-scale company buy-in to the business model. A model that has scalability, commercial potential and credibility, which all adds critical value to our brand.”

Recycling action plan

Resource management has remained a priority area for WRAP, as highlighted through its work on a Food Waste Recycling Action Plan (FWRAP), a new five-point action plan aimed at improving household and commercial food waste recycling.

FWRAP was launched in Birmingham earlier this month and acts as England’s first blueprint to tackling food waste that encompasses local authorities, waste treatment operators, industry bodies and private sector waste collectors.

The five-step plan could provide a much needed boost to tackle food waste, an issue that has grown so prominent that global standards have been developed to alleviate environmental issues. The plan could rival Scotland’s goal to reduce the nation’s food waste by one third over the next nine years – a plan that would save businesses and households across the country more than £500m if successful.

Earlier in the year, WRAP unveiled new research and an interactive map which shows the job-creation potential of the circular economy all the way down to a constituency level. The granular data builds on existing research by the organisation which claims a circular economy would create 40,000 jobs in London210,000 across the UK and three million in Europe.

Last month, WRAP confirmed that its former operations director Marcus Gover has replaced Liz Goodwin as the charity’s new chief executive.

George Ogleby

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