The UK’s resource efficiency charity Waste & Resources Action programme (WRAP), on behalf of the UK Government and Devolved Administrations, has unveiled the commitment, which aims to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable for the future.
The Courtauld Commitment 2025 is a voluntary agreement to work along the food chain to reduce the environmental impact of food and drink, from farm to fork and beyond.
The commitment has three targets:
- A 20% reduction in food and drink waste arising in the UK
- A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of food & drink consumed in the UK
- A reduction in impact associated with water use in the supply chain
Signatories will work together with WRAP to identify new actions and opportunities to save resources that can be shared across the entire supply chain, to make the whole system more sustainable and resilient to supply chain disruptions.
Participants also commit to implementing changes, measuring the benefits, and helping other businesses and people to realize savings.
Big savings for UK economy
WRAP estimates that meeting the targets will deliver $28.2bn (£20bn) of savings to the UK economy. The majority of the savings will be enjoyed by individuals; with approximately $5.6bn (£4bn) in business savings possible.
Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, 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.”
He said to safeguard UK food, there needs to be a change to increase sustainable food and drink production and consumption, conserve resources and combat climate change.
Swannell thanked the businesses and organizations that have already signed up.
“Having key signatories on board on day one puts us in a strong position at the start of this new era for our food industry. I look forward to welcoming other leading organizations as signatories over the coming weeks, months and years and delivering this ambitious agreement,” Swannell said.
WRAP will work directly with industry and other stakeholders to support actions under four main areas:
- Embedding sustainable principles and practices into the design, buying and sourcing of food;
- Optimising resource efficiency throughout entire supply chains to help produce more goods using less resources;
- To influence behaviours around consumption and reduce waste in the home; and
- To find innovative ways to make the best use of surplus and waste food.
Commenting on Arla’s decision to sign the commitment, Dan Kolding, senior vice president, supply chain, Arla Foods UK said, “This commitment enables us to work collaboratively with our retail customers to drive forward reductions in the environmental impact of food production.
“As one of the founder signatory members, we have been able to contribute to the design of this 2025 Commitment through detailed discussions and proposals. Its emphasis on food waste reduction is partly testament to our ambition to deliver change in this area.”
Dairy UK emphasizes environment
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said, “The dairy industry is a major player in the food sector and the Courtauld Commitment is a pivotal environmental initiative which, for the first time, brings all parties together under one voluntary agreement.”
She emphasized the importance of how the dairy industry interacts with the environment.
“The dairy sector has been making tangible improvements for years and UK dairy businesses take their environmental responsibilities very seriously.”
Nestlé sees chance for collaboration
Andy Griffiths, head of environmental sustainability at Nestlé UK said, it was critical that collaboration led to identifying and implementing effective solutions.
“The Courtauld Commitment 2025 is a fantastic platform to bring together a range of key organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors to help accelerate the deployment of these opportunities,” Griffiths said.
Unilever moving on food waste reduction
Gina Boswell, general manager of Unilever UK and Ireland, said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of food waste. She noted that retailers, campaigners and policy makers all agree more collective action is needed to solve the challenge, and that Courtauld 2025 is a strong commitment that will move industry in the right direction.
“In particular for our UK and Ireland business, the Commitment will help strengthen and drive forward our own food waste reduction ambitions as well as contribute towards our global target of halving the waste associated with our products by 2020,” Boswell said.