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Policies & Issues: Environment

Reducing food waste is a key challenge for the UK. Cutting food waste will play a significant role in reducing the overall environmental impact of the production of food and reduce pressure on food stocks. Retailers have made significant progress in reducing food waste and are demonstrating this through the Courtauld Commitment to reduce packaging and food waste amongst consumers, and in their own operations. In phase 1 of the Commitment, 670,000 tonnes of food waste was avoided between 2005 and 2009 and annual UK household food waste fell by 1.1m tonnes between 2006 and 2010. This has been further reduced under the second phase of the Commitment reducing household food waste by a further 3% in 2011.

Grocery retailers are also working hard to help customers reduce their food waste. Supermarkets now provide more information on food storage and recipes to use up the food they have bought and have increased the variety of products sold, such as ranges of different portion sizes and the introduction of re-sealable packaging. They have also altered the way food is sold so promotions include "half price", and "Buy One Get One Free Later", as well as the ability to mix the perishable food that is on offer so consumers don't have to buy more of one product to take advantage of a promotion. They are also working closely with WRAP on its love food hate waste campaign and more details are available at

There is some food waste that is unavoidable but our members are ensuring that they deal with this in the most sustainable way. The grocers are committed to send no waste to landfill and where it is created they are using it in anaerobic digestion and composting.

Examples of how retailers are helping reduce food waste are available in A Better Retailing Climate.

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