Packaging waste over the same period remained at approximately 2.9 million tonnes (mt) between 2006 and 2009. and 4% less packaging in UK shopping baskets.
The figures come from the first phase of the Courtauld Commitment – a responsibility deal between the UK grocery sector and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) – delivered in partnership with local authorities
Taking into account projected increases from previous years the UK grocery sector prevented 1.2mt of food and packaging waste from entering the household waste stream over the last five years.
A total of 670,000t of food waste and 520,000t of packaging have been avoided across the UK between 2005 and 2009.
The value of this avoided food and packaging waste is estimated at £1.8bn and the CO2 equivalent emissions avoided amount to around 3.3mt, the same as stopping half a million around-the-world flights.
Phase Two of the Courtauld Commitment will take further steps to tackle food and packaging waste. A total of 39 major retailers, brands and manufacturers are on board with the agreement.
Liz Goodwin, WRAP chief executive, which manages the Courtauld Commitment, said: "This is good progress particularly against the backdrop of an unexpected increase in grocery sales. Bringing together major players, including all the big supermarkets, is helping householders put less packaging and food waste in their bins.
"We’re especially pleased with the food waste reduction, which is way beyond target. It shows how a collaborative approach between the grocery sector, consumers and local authorities can work to reduce waste and save people money.
Environment Minister Lord Henley commented: "The results of the first phase of the Courtauld Commitment show real progress on reducing food and packaging waste, and demonstrate how effectively governments and businesses can work together through responsibility deals.
According to British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson: "The huge fall in food waste is the best news and a tribute to retailers’ work with customers, supported by WRAP and local authority initiatives.
"With food production generating significant emissions – much more than packaging – cutting the amount of food wasted means big environmental and financial gains for us all."