UK retailers have made major strides to cut waste across supply chain, says BRC

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Responding to results issued by Government waste body WRAP on the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says the results demonstrate retailers have made major strides to cut waste across the supply chain.

Today’s results are measured against targets to reduce household food waste, packaging and waste within the grocery retail supply chain by the end of 2012. They show that retailers signed up to the commitment met the target to reduce packaging waste by 10%t between 2009 and 2012, and reduced supply chain product and packaging waste by 7.2%, significantly exceeding the 5% target.

The results indicate a target to reduce household food waste by 4% was narrowly missed, as the final outcome was 3.7%, however, avoidable food waste has been cut by 5.3%. In addition, the UK grew by a further 660,000 households within the time period covered by phase two, meaning that, if population growth is taken into account, a relative reduction of 6.1% of total food waste was achieved over the period, increasing to 7.6% for avoidable food waste. 

British Retail Consortium head of environment, Alice Ellison, said: “These results show that retailers achieved a great deal against very challenging targets. It’s particularly pleasing to see that the supply chain waste target has been smashed so comprehensively – this was a really ambitious goal which required significant investment and change to existing processes, so it’s great to see that these efforts have paid off.

“While the results suggest a slight shortfall on reduction of household food waste, the progress made is still impressive if one accounts for an extra 660,000 households within this time period. The fact that avoidable food waste has seen significant reductions highlights that the range of approaches that retailers have been using – including giving clear storage advice and recipe ideas and offering a wider range of portion sizes – has been striking a chord with customers.

“The 10% reduction in packaging waste is a significant achievement and builds on the progress made by grocery retailers and manufacturers under the Courtauld phase 1 target (2005-10), when there was no growth in packaging waste but also no reduction.

“These results demonstrate what can be achieved when retailers and manufacturers work together and share best practice across the grocery supply chain. This momentum will be maintained as signatories work to meet new targets to 2015 under Courtauld Commitment 3.”