New BRC report shows drop in food waste across retail industry

Industry-wide waste reduction

Industry-wide waste reduction

A group of leading UK retailers have for the second time published a combined food waste figure, in line with a commitment to increase transparency and report on progress annually in this area. A British Retail Consortium (BRC) report, which details the practical steps supermarkets are taking to reduce waste, reveals the total amount of waste which occurred in supermarkets 2014 was 180,000 tonnes, down from 200,000 tonnes in 2013. This figure was calculated using data from seven major supermarkets* and was independently collated by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

While this decrease in food waste is positive, when looking at the supply chain as a whole, retailers still account for just a little over one per cent of the estimated 15 million tonnes of food which is wasted in the UK each year. A considerably higher proportion of this waste occurs at other stages along the supply chain including at the farm and manufacturing stages as well as within the home.

UK retailers can and do use their position at the heart of the supply chain to influence the amount of food wasted both in the supply chain and at home. BRC members have an ongoing commitment in this area and individual retailers are working on a range of projects and initiatives focused on their own operations, on suppliers and on households to prevent food waste from occurring in the first place. These are outlined in greater detail in today’s BRC Report.

Retailers are also working very closely with redistribution organisations across the UK to ensure that where they do have useable surplus food, as much as possible goes to the people who need it most. Where food waste does arise, retailers continue to find the most appropriate way of utilising it effectively, with many retailers now sending zero food waste to landfill.

BRC director of food & sustainability, Andrew Opie, said: “While we welcome the fact that retail food waste levels are falling, it is nevertheless important to continue to focus attention and efforts on where the biggest reductions in food waste can be made and that is in the supply chain and at home. As an industry, we have a huge contribution to make and we will continue our work with suppliers and customers to build on the progress we have already achieved.”