The Courtauld Commitment 3: Delivering Action on Waste (final report)

10th January 2017

The final report of achievements by signatories to the Courtauld Commitment 3 (CC3).

Key points
Over £100 million business savings delivered by reducing food waste
Product and packaging waste reduced by 3%
Recovery and recycling rate grew from 95% in 2012 to 99% in 2015
7% reduction in carbon impact of food and drink packaging
A notable increase in surplus food and drink redistributed for human consumption

Working in partnership with grocery retailers, brands and suppliers as well as governments, WRAP developed and delivered a collaborative solution to reduce waste through CC3. It was launched in May 2013 with ambitious targets to further reduce the weight and carbon impact of household food waste, grocery product and packaging waste. Over 50 grocery retailers and food and drink manufacturers signed up to CC3, which completed at the end of 2015. A number of these organisations are continuing to work with WRAP under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 voluntary agreement.

WRAP developed and delivered CC3 using funds from the governments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The three CC3 targets were owned by WRAP and collectively delivered by the signatories.

Household target: To reduce food and drink waste by 5% by 2015 compared with 2012

The target to reduce household food waste (HHFW) by 5% by 2015 compared with 2012 has not been achieved. The estimated amount of HHFW in the UK for 2015 was 7.3 (+/- 0.3) million tonnes, compared with 7.0 (+/- 0.3) million tonnes in 2012. Neither of these increases was statistically significant at a 95% confidence level.

Although HHFW has not reduced in recent years, there has been an overall 12% reduction in HHFW over the timeframe from 2007 to 2015, equivalent to 960,000 tonnes, with a value of £2.7 billion.

Packaging target: To achieve no increase in the carbon impact (CO2e) of packaging by 2015 relative to the 2012 baseline

The packaging target has been exceeded, with a reduction of 7% in CO2e emissions against a target of no increase over the period of CC3, although total packaging material placed on the market rose by 1%, from 2.92 million to 2.96 million tonnes.

The main causes of the CO2e reductions have been increased use of recycled content and changes in the packaging materials used. The estimated cumulative CO2e saving over the lifetime of CC3, against a counterfactual based on signatory growth, is between 1.1 million and 2 million tonnes, depending on how much of the carbon saving from the increased recycling rates of packaging is attributed to CC3.

CC3 signatories provided data on the amount, material and recycled content of packaging within the scope of the Commitment. This information, combined with the CO2e impact of each material8, was used to estimate the carbon emissions of packaging materials.

Manufacturing and Retail target: To reduce ingredients, product and packaging waste in the supply chain by 3% by 2015 relative to the 2012 baseline

The target has been achieved, with manufacturing and retail waste (including waste to sewer) falling by 74,000 from 2,504,000 tonnes to 2,430,000 tonnes, a reduction of 3%. Over the lifetime of CC3, cumulatively an estimated 219,000 tonnes of food and packaging supply chain waste have been saved. This equates to a CO2e saving of 555,000 tonnes.

In addition to this absolute reduction, significant volumes of waste have moved up the waste hierarchy, from landfill disposal or incineration to recovery (including energy from waste) and recycling. The recovery and recycling rate grew from 95% in 2012 to 99% in 2015 (equivalent to 89,000 tonnes of additional recovery in 2015).

The data also suggests that signatories have achieved a notable increase in the amount of surplus food and drink redistributed for human consumption, reaching 18,000 tonnes in 2015.