Halt in packaging growth
Published:  29 July, 2008

Food manufacturers and retailers have successfully reduced the amount of packaging used in the grocery sector, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The reduction means that the sector has met some of the targets set under the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement between WRAP, Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), the Scottish and Welsh governments and the UK grocery sector.

The agreement was designed to achieve significant reductions in household packaging and food waste. It was achieved despite a sharp increase in UK sales as a result of a 1.8% growth in the grocery sector and population growth of 0.5% per annum.

WRAP CEO Liz Goodwin said: "WRAP is delighted that the grocery sector has responded positively to the challenge of tackling packaging and food waste. Their achievement in ending packaging growth is an impressive one, particularly against the backdrop of unexpectedly high grocery sales and population growth."

WRAP yesterday hosted a summit of top retailers and brands, at which environment minister Joan Ruddock gave the government perspective. Representatives of 32 retailers and brands took part in this summit. The retailers represent 92% of the UK grocery market.

"Packaging is the most visual, intrusive and irritating part of household rubbish. People say they feel it's out of their control and that they want something done about it," said Ruddock.

"Food waste is one area where we can make a big difference. For every tonne of food we can prevent being thrown away, we can save four-and-a-half tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and I would urge signatories to keep this in mind when considering ways in which to tackle this problem."

During the summit, WRAP and the grocery sector discussed possible future action on food and packaging waste against the background of the recent report by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit: Food Matters.

In addition, WRAP asked the retailers and brands to further support its Love Food, Hate Waste Campaign to help achieve its objective of a 155,000-tonne reduction in household food waste by April 2010.

Melanie Leech, Food and Drink Federation director-general, said: "It's great news that the industry has met the Courtauld target to halt packaging growth, and that we are now on track to cut food and packaging waste by 2010.

"As our joint survey with Defra demonstrates, reducing waste is an area that our members are already taking seriously, having prevented over half a million tonnes of food waste being created in 2006 by sending food by-products for uses such as animal feed."




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