WRAP report urges food industry to tackle emissions ahead of COP26

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published a report analysing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to the UK’s food and drink industry ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

The report, titled ‘UK Food System GHG Emissions’, asserts that there is an ‘urgent’ need to reduce the carbon footprint associated with the food industry if the UK wishes to meet the Net Zero ambitions set out by the Government. It also puts the onus on the consumer, suggesting that, societally, it is necessary to consider the ‘full, global footprint’ of the produce we pick in order to avoid reducing domestic emissions at the expense of increasing emissions elsewhere in the world.

As far as food waste reduction is concerned, WRAP sets out several interventions that will also see a decrease in associated emissions. It recommends the deployment of waste diversion strategies in order to halve the amount of refuse from produce that the UK generates. The paper asserts, however, that what would be even more impactful would be the prevention of food waste from arising in the first instance rather than the food systems having too heavy a reliance on redirecting surplus matter.

The WRAP report also underscores the areas where food system emissions have arisen, as well as detailing the changes between 2015-2019, during which time an eight per cent reduction in GHG output was achieved by the UK. It builds on the National Food Strategy and recent Courtauld 2030 progress reports, which highlighted the significance of the food system for both territorial emissions and the nation’s wider global footprint. This reduction in emissions can be achieved chiefly by ensuring that existing policy, business and sector-level commitments and targets are delivered, according to WRAP, as well as through the introduction of new interventions. These efforts, however, must be delivered at pace, states the body.