Courtauld Commitment 1

1.2 million tonnes of food and packaging waste was prevented through the success of Phase 1. The results, announced in September 2010, show that 670,000 tonnes of food waste and 520,000 tonnes of packaging were avoided across the UK between 2005 and 2009.

This avoided waste is the equivalent of:

  • 128,000 full standard refuse trucks, stretched bumper to bumper from Truro to Inverness.
  • Approximately £1.8 billion of food and packaging waste that could be avoided.
  • Around 3.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, the same as 0.5 million around-the-world flights.

Achieving the targets:

Of the original targets set, two out of three have been achieved:

  • to design out packaging waste growth (zero growth achieved in 2008); and
  • to reduce food waste by 155,000 tonnes (exceeded with 270,000 tonnes less food waste arising in 2009/10 than in 2007/08). 

The target to reduce the amount of packaging waste over the same period has not been achieved. Total packaging has consistently remained at approximately 2.9 million tonnes between 2006 and 2009.

The main reason behind this is a 6.4% increase in grocery sales volumes since the agreement began in 2005 and participating retailers taking a greater proportion of the overall market for beer and wine. Bottles and cans for beer, wine and cider represent a third of all grocery packaging by weight.

However, across the range of groceries we buy, packaging has reduced on average by around 4% for each product. This is reflected in packaging for products ranging from more concentrated detergents to lightweight cans, and reflects a significant achievement. The results are summarised here.

What does WRAP say:

WRAP believes Courtauld Commitment 1 has been critical in tackling packaging and food waste particularly against the backdrop of an unexpected increase in grocery sales. The results demonstrate how a collaborative approach between the retail sector, householders and local authorities can work to reduce waste and save people money.

Background of Courtauld Commitment

Phase 1 helped to implement new solutions and technologies so that less food, products and packaging end up as household waste. It took shape at a Ministerial summit in 2005, where the then Environment Minister and the Chief Executive of WRAP met with senior representatives from the majority of the leading UK grocery retailers, as well as the British Retail Consortium.

Courtauld Commitment 1 was a powerful vehicle for change and resulted in real reductions in packaging and food waste, and realised significant commercial savings. Over 40 major retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and suppliers signed the agreement. The retailers represented 92% of the UK’s grocery supermarkets. 

The success of Courtauld Commitment 1 (2005-2010) continued through Courtauld Commitment 2 (2010-2012). Courtauld Commitment 3 (2013-2015) aims to achieve even more.