SOME of Britain’s biggest supermarket chains including Asda and Waitrose have pledged to reveal the amount of food they discard in an effort to cut the millions of tonnes wasted every year.
Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and the Co-operative will collectively release regular updates on the amount of food thrown out by stores from early next year, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced.
Tesco was the first of the supermarkets to release its figures, in October, revealing it generated 28,500 tonnes of food waste at its stores and distribution centres in the first six months of last year alone.
It announced it was to drop some food promotions after finding that two-thirds of produce grown for bagged salad is wasted - 35% of it in the home.
The retailer also found that 40% of apples are wasted, as are just under half of bakery items.
Figures from the Government’s waste reduction advisory body, Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), say that 15 million tonnes of food are discarded every year in the UK.
The BRC said the UK retail industry will announce a range of “ambitious” targets today, including a collective pledge to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, “putting the industry well on course to meet the 80% overall target set by the UK Climate Change Bill”.
It said the supermarkets signed up to the initiative have committed to publish their data on food waste created at the retail stage, along with annual progress reports, and are working with consumers to help cut food waste in the home.
Other new targets to be announced today include a commitment to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% by 2020, and to divert less than 1% of waste to landfill by the same year.
BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers in the UK have made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment. I’m delighted that the signatories are pushing themselves to achieve against even more ambitious commitments, having gone above and beyond the last set of targets.
“The strength of commitment is plain to see when you look at how much progress has been made in the last decade: for example, only 6% of waste was sent to landfill in 2013, down from 47% in 2005. But retailers will continue to keep this momentum going: they recognise that it makes business sense and delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers.”
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “This initiative has been very successful in showing how industry can reduce the environmental impact of the retail sector.
“It also highlights how it is possible to grow businesses in a sustainable way that is not only good for the environment but for the economy as well.”
‘Important to businesses and consumers’
Wrap said it welcomed the BRC’s initiative.
A spokeswoman said: “Wrap knows this is an area that retailers understand is both important to their business and to their customers.
“Wrap works with the BRC and the retail sector through the voluntary agreements, the Courtauld Commitment and the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan 2020 Commitment. By 2015, Wrap envisages both agreements will have made a significant contribution to reducing the environmental footprint of grocery and clothing products.
“We believe this latest initiative will continue to drive the retail industry and we look forward to continuing our strong relationships with the sector to help ensure its delivery.”