Food and drink waste dropped 3.7%, falling short of the 4% target

Food and drink waste dropped 3.7%, falling short of the 4% target

A target to reduce household food and drink waste in the UK, drawn up as part of industry attempts to tackle the issue, has been missed, it emerged today (28 November).

The Waste & Resources Action Programme, or WRAP, the government-backed scheme working with the sector to tackle waste revealed household food and drink waste dropped by 270,000 tonnes, or 3.7%, between 2010 and 2012.

The fall, however, was short of a target of 4%, which WRAP said was due to changes in eating habits and an increase in the number of households in the UK.

Considering rising production and sales volumes as well as number of households, a 6.1% reduction in total household food waste was achieved, the organisation noted.

The results formed part of "phase two" of the Courtauld Commitment, first launched in 2005 to cut waste and a pledge joined by forty-five food and drink manufacturers and retailers operating in the UK.

Alice Ellison, head of environment at industry body the British Retail Consortium, acknowledged the results suggested a "slight shortfall" in the reduction of household food waste but she insisted the progress made was still "impressive".

"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 other two targets part of the agreement were met or exceeded. The carbon impact of grocery packaging was reduced by 10% against a target of 10%, while grocery packaging weight also reduced by 10.7%.

Grocery product and packaging waste in the supply chain was reduced by 7.4%, against a target of 5%.

Andrew Kuyk, director of sustainability at manufacturers' association the Food and Drink Federation, said reducing waste through the Courtauld Commitment makes "a major contribution" to the food and drink industry's efforts to deliver sustainable growth and improve resource efficiency.

"We are particularly pleased to have exceeded the 5% target for 2010 to 2012 by achieving an absolute reduction of 7.4% in food and packaging waste while still increasing output to meet higher demand."

In May, UK manufacturers and retailers signed up to the latest, third, phase of The Courtauld Commitment. The phase runs through to 2015 and aims to further reduce the weight and carbon impact of household food waste as well grocery product and packaging waste.