The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Courtauld Commitment has been extended by five years to 2030, in an attempt to keep the UK on track to cut carbon emissions, reduce food waste and ease water insecurity across the food and drink sectors.
The Courtauld Commitment 2025 launched in 2015 and was then a 10-year programme, to complete in 2025.
Environmental charity WRAP delivers the Courtauld Commitment, bringing together more than 80 businesses, trade bodies, NGOs, government departments and other organisations to set the new GHG targets.
With only four months until the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the UK has taken a step forward in reducing the impact food has on the natural world with a number of ‘ambitious changes’ to this Courtauld Commitment voluntary agreement.
The Commitment is already helping the UK food and drink sector to deliver against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 to halve food waste, with the annual Courtauld report finding that the UK food and drink companies involved have achieved a 55 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions five years ahead of their deadline.
Courtauld states that there is both the ‘appetite’ and ‘critical need’ to scale up this level of action to meet the growing level of pressure on resources.
The Courtauld Commitment will now also be central in achieving and monitoring progress towards Net Zero ambitions and convening action on water stewardship in at-risk food sourcing locations.
Foremost is the first industry-wide collaborative action towards a 50 per cent absolute reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with food and drink consumed in the UK by 2030.
A focus on measuring carbon along the entire food chain and acting on the results will be driven by WRAP.
Furthermore, the commitment hopes to achieve sustainable water management, quality and quantity, in the top 20 most important product and ingredient sourcing areas in the UK and overseas – covering 50 per cent of product ingredients deemed ‘at risk’ from water insecurity.
Extending the Courtauld food waste prevention target to 2030, and aligning it with the global target to halve food waste, should mean that:
– UK food waste will be 800,000 tonnes lower in 2030 compared to 2025, saving food worth £2.4 billion (€2,78 billion) a year by 2030.
– Between 2025 and 2030, the extended food waste target will result in 2.6 million tonnes of food waste being avoided over the five-year period; this could save £8 billion (€9,26 billion) of food from being wasted.
Today, the agreement has membership consisting of over 90 per cent of UK food retailers, as well as food manufacturers; the hospitality and food service sectors; farmers and growers; redistributors and charities; trade bodies; local authorities; and groups and businesses from across the lifecycle of food.
The programme continues to spearhead and co-ordinate activity across the whole food system, providing a space to convene collaborative activities, drive sector-wide change and monitor and measure progress against science-based targets.
The Courtauld Commitment Annual Report, published today, highlights many of the activities of the last year.
Foremost, the inaugural Food Waste Action Week, wherein the food and drink sector joined forces with food waste reduction campaign Love Food Hate Waste to promote the message that ‘Wasting Food Feeds Climate Change’.
The report also outlines the largest annual increase in surplus food redistribution since 2015, with WRAP recording a 45 per cent increase in UK redistribution in 2020 vs 2019, and almost £7 million (€8.1 million) of grants awarded to redistribution organisations across England.
Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, commented: “I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 during the last 5 years.
“But with COP26 fast approaching, the new Courtauld Commitment 2030 has been refreshed to build on this success and meet newer demands of climate action head on.”
“Courtauld has always addressed the most significant sustainability challenges that the sector faces – carbon reduction, improved water stewardship and food waste.”
“Climate change is the biggest threat we all face, and fixing food is vital.”
“I believe Courtauld has never been more important as only fundamental change can reset our fragile global food system into a sustainable model that will feed us in the future, and cut greenhouse gas emissions towards Net Zero.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, Defra said: “Our food and drink industry has a hugely important role to play in addressing the urgent challenges of climate change and sustainability.
“The UK is a world leader in combating food waste, which fell by 480,000 tonnes between 2015 and 2018.
“But we must go further; not only by stopping more food being chucked away needlessly, but also by slashing the resources consumed by the sector, to help us achieve Net Zero.”
“The Courtauld agreement has been a great success in bringing organisations together to create a more sustainable industry, and these new, far-reaching goals for 2030 will take this to the next level as we head into COP26.”
Nestlé UK and Ireland Head of Value Chain Sustainability, Andrew Griffiths, said: “Food waste is a critical issue, both in terms of its environmental and social impact.
“Nestle UK and Ireland has been a member of WRAP’s Courtauld commitment on food waste since its inception and has also committed to both the UK Food Waste Roadmap and SDG 12.3, targeting a 50 per cent reduction in our operational food waste by 2030 and supporting both our suppliers and consumers to take action on food waste.”
“We have worked closely with our partners, including Company Shop, Fareshare and FoodCloud to develop and apply a food waste audit process across our sites.”
“This process has helped us to identify and address causes of food waste within our processes and increase opportunities to redistribute surplus food.”
“Since 2016, we have reduced our operational food waste by 41 per cent and in 2020 alone, redistributed the equivalent of more than 2.6 million meals.”
Nadiya Catel-Arutyunova, Sustainability Policy Adviser, British Retail Consortium said: “The Courtauld Commitment has proved highly effective at reducing food waste and supporting our economy’s transition to net zero.
“Retailers have undertaken major efforts to cut the waste in stores and engage their customers to reduce waste in their homes.”
“Preventing waste is a critical priority and BRC members are working closely with redistribution organisations and charities across the UK to ensure that any useable surplus food goes to the people who need it most.”