Courtauld Commitment 3 delivers over £100 million business savings by reducing food waste over three year period

10th January 2017
Over 50 signatories took part in the Courtauld Commitment 3 (CC3) and together helped deliver against three ambitious targets for the period between 2012 and 2015: 
To reduce food and packaging waste by 3% in manufacturing and retail;
To improve packaging design and recyclability in the grocery supply chain without increasing the carbon impact; and 
To reduce household food and drink waste by 5%.

The manufacturing and retail target was met in full meaning grocery ingredient, product and packaging waste is down 3%. This equates to 219,000 tonnes of food and packaging waste prevented and representing a CO2e saving of 555,000 tonnes over the lifetime of the commitment; the value of the food savings alone were worth an estimated £100 million.

WRAP, which developed and managed the CC3 agreement on behalf of UK governments, also noted more waste had moved up the waste hierarchy as the recovery and recycling rate grew from 95% in 2012 to 99% in 2015 (equivalent to 89,000 tonnes of material in 2015).

The data suggests that signatories have achieved a significant increase in the amount of surplus food and drink redistributed for human consumption in 2015 (18,000 tonnes).

To help maximise progress, WRAP established a working group of businesses, sector bodies and food redistribution organisations to share knowledge and experiences of barriers to food waste prevention. The group helped WRAP produce a range of key topic material for the sector, including

  • Framework, guidance and case studies to establish and maintain effective redistribution partnerships;
  • Guidance on increasing the product life of food available to customers - to address a leading cause of food waste in the home and supply chain; 
  • A tool to help business audiences and food categories access new tailored waste prevention advice; and 
  • Guidance to increase the use of surplus food not suitable for human consumption in the production of animal feed.

The packaging target was exceeded. This aimed to stop any increase in the impact of packaging in terms of carbon emissions by 2015.

Data shows a reduction at end of the agreement of 7%, significantly better than the target outcome while the amount of packaging material placed on the market increased by 1% over the same period, to just under three million tonnes. The main contributing factors for this fall were increased recycling rates for different packaging materials and changes in materials composition, where wood, polymer, aluminium and steel packaging have seen reductions both in total weight placed on the market and CO2e impact.  

The household food and drink waste target has not been met, with household food waste in 2015 estimated to be 7.3Mt compared to 7Mt in 2012. Whilst this difference may not be statistically significant, it is clear that progress to reduce household food waste at a UK level have stalled*.

Considerable effort has been made over the last three years to help reduce household food waste, which has undoubtedly helped many people. However, a combination of influences have contributed to the target being missed including UK population growth, falling food prices and increased personal earnings. These have reduced the pressures for people to avoid wasting food. It’s clear that campaign activities need to reach more people.

Under Courtauld 2025, a targeted approach to reducing household food waste is being developed by WRAP’s consumer campaign Love Food Hate Waste. WRAP will work with Courtauld 2025 signatories to investigate potential high-impact ways of helping consumers make best use of the food they buy. Changes that consumers could see in the future include:

  • Tips on-pack and on-shelf-displays for the most commonly wasted food items;  
  • Personalised messaging to help individuals identify beneficial changes in their food habits, for example through online shopping, loyalty card schemes, digital receipts or apps; and
  • Consistent application of best practice in date labelling and storage advice and product portioning on key products.

Steve Creed, Director of Business Programmes at WRAP, said: “The three phases of Courtauld have been a game-changer in bringing businesses together to work on issues of resource efficiency and drive change within their own operations. Today’s results show the industry’s commitment to reducing their environmental impacts and the huge benefit of collaborative action, particularly in the supply chain.”

“Reducing food waste in the home is incredibly challenging, given the complex reasons for it, the scale of food waste in the home and the lack of awareness, but it’s clear we all need to do more. WRAP has a plan to work with governments, signatories and consumers for greater public engagement through Love Food Hate Waste and interventions by signatories to Courtauld 2025.”

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said, “Good progress has been made by industry to tackle food and packaging waste in the supply chain and it goes to show the achievements that can be made through working together with partners across the UK.

“But we all have a role to play and despite a million-tonne fall in domestic food waste since 2007, there is clearly more we need to do.

“That is why we will continue to work with WRAP to support their new strategy to raise awareness, increase education and change people’s perceptions of food waste.”

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “In Wales we are working towards zero waste by 2050.  Cutting down on the amount of food and packaging we unnecessarily throw away will help us to achieve this ambitious target and will contribute to the goals of our Well-being of Future Generations Act. It is encouraging to see the progress made by the signatories of the Courtauld Commitment 3 but as we look to the future we must ensure we work even harder to tackle waste and, in the process, save businesses and consumers money”.

For Northern Ireland, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Minister Michelle McIlveen said, “Courtauld Commitment 3 signatories are to be congratulated in their achievements.  Seeing what’s possible through this three year agreement gives me huge confidence that Northern Ireland businesses engaged in WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025 ten-year agreement will build even further on these impressive achievements.  This will benefit their own bottom line, and bring wider environmental benefits that we can all enjoy through living and working more sustainably.”

Notes to editor 

  • The report contains a comprehensive suite of new CC3 case studies ranging from the delivery of the Meaty Issues campaign and the Co-operative labelling review, to Nestlé UK & Ireland reducing waste in the wider supply chain. 
  • *Due to the method of measurement, there is a degree of uncertainty over the exact figure, and an uncertainty of +/- 0.3Mt has been calculated. 
  • WRAP continues to build upon the impact of CC3 through Courtauld 2025, the ambitious ten-year commitment creating partnerships across the entire food supply chain including hospitality and food service sector, retailers, manufacturers, farmers and local authorities. This aims to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink in the UK by at least one-fifth per capita in ten years, and reduce the impact of water use, with cumulative savings of around £20 billion.
  • First established in 2000, WRAP is a not for profit organisation and registered charity whose vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. WRAP works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency.
  • Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through: 

a. re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

b. re-thinking how we use and consume products, and

c. re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.


Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677