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Grocery industry on course to meet Courtauld Commitment targets

WRAP today announces that grocery retailers and manufacturers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, are making significant progress in meeting the ambitious waste and recycling targets set out in phase 2 of the Courtauld Commitment.

5 Dec 11

The results, which highlight achievements for the first year of phase 2 of the voluntary agreement1, show that signatories are already half way to achieving the packaging reduction target, and three quarters of the way to reaching the household food waste2 objectives. 

These results indicate a strong collective performance given the ambitious nature of the three year targets and the increase in volume sales among signatories. The challenge now is for businesses to build upon this early success, through the implementation of more waste prevention and resource efficiency measures. 

The supply chain impact is significantly less at only 0.4% against a 5% reduction target. This is a new area for the Courtauld Commitment, and will be an area of additional focus going forward. The grocery supply chain has performed well in diverting waste from landfill, with a 40% reduction over the reporting period - much of this waste has gone to renewable energy production using Anaerobic Digestion (AD). WRAP will be working closely with signatories to ensure that the supply chain and other targets are reached before the end of the Commitment.

Table contains Courtauld Commitment phase 2 progress:


Objective First year reduction Three year target reduction
Packaging – to reduce the weight, increase recycling rates and increase the recycled content of all grocery packaging, as appropriate 5.1% 10%
Household food and drink waste – to reduce UK household food and drink waste 3% 4%
Supply chain product and packaging waste – to reduce traditional grocery product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain 0.4% 5%


The Courtauld Commitment is funded by all four UK governments, and is run by waste prevention advisory body WRAP. The voluntary agreement, which began in 2005, supports businesses to improve their overall performance and reduce their environmental impact. Phase 2 began in March 2010 and is due to complete in December 2012.

Dr Richard Swannell, Director, Design & Waste Prevention, WRAP, said: 

“Following the success of Courtauld Commitment 1, Phase 2 has focused on encouraging resource efficiency and reducing waste in the supply chain and the home. The latest phase 2 figures show good initial progress towards these by the signatories. 

“The next step is to build on this good start, sharing best practice to encourage rapid change. This is particularly key around waste within the supply chain. We will continue to work with the sector to help ensure the Courtauld phase 2 targets are achieved.”

 Lord Taylor, Defra Minister for Environment, said:

“These results show excellent progress towards cutting down on food and packaging waste that are part of our ambition to move to a zero waste economy. However, there is no room for complacency and it’s clear that more work needs to be done in meeting our new target for reducing waste in the supply chain.  I will be pushing for industry to build on their efforts to make sure we meet these goals over the next two years.”

 Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Environment Secretary, said:

“The companies signed up to the Courtauld Commitment should be very proud of the reductions in packaging and food waste they’ve achieved.  I’m particularly pleased to see the involvement of several large Scottish companies.  The progress made towards meeting the packaging reduction target alone has already seen a saving of CO2 which is the equivalent of taking approximately 100,000 cars off the road for a year or flying around the world almost 45,000 times.

"The Scottish Government is keen to see continued progress from all sectors to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover in our battle to tackle waste. The Courtauld Commitment phase 2 complements our own efforts, including statutory measures to be introduced through the Zero Waste Regulations. Whilst our dependency on landfill has reduced through greater recycling, we see waste prevention as being key for a sustainable future and would encourage all businesses to pledge towards the Courtauld Commitment.”

John Griffiths, the Welsh Government's Environment Minister, said: 

“Courtauld Commitment Phase 2 has seen some success to date but we know that there is still more to do to reach the targets set within this deal and indeed to reach the aspirations of Wales' One Planet living. We want, and encourage, more action to be undertaken in Wales by retailers and manufacturers to reduce the impact of their products and packaging and I am pleased to continue Welsh Government's support of this initiative.”

Alex Attwood, Northern Ireland Environment Minister, said:

“I am encouraged by the progress made to date and the contribution the Courtauld Commitment has made to the ongoing delivery of the Rethink Waste Campaign in Northern Ireland, and the Department’s Waste Strategy.

“I recently announced figures showing that household recycling and composting waste in Northern Ireland has risen, the changes made by householders and businesses working together are making a difference.

“I urge businesses in the food retail and manufacturing sectors operating in Northern Ireland, who are not already members, to sign up to the Commitment in order to reduce the environmental impact of the products we buy."

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