Pathfinder projects

The Product Sustainability Forum's Pathfinder projects aim to address points of significant environmental impact within a product supply chain, and implement measures that will both reduce these impacts and increase efficiency.

*See also: Call for expressions of interest for new Pathfinders*

The first wave of Pathfinder projects are progressing really well. Contact Elaine.Charlesworth@wrap.org.uk if you’d like to get involved.

Current Pathfinder Projects

  • Resource Efficient and Sustainable Buying – tackling hotspots at the ‘raw materials’ stage
  • Raw Material Risk Tool
  • Product Design & Development with J Sainsbury’s
  • Unintentional Product Residue with INCPEN and Boots
  • Demonstrating the Benefits of a Whole Chain Approach to Waste Prevention 

Whole-chain resource efficiency projects use a problem-solving approach to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency across the entire product value chain – from farm to fork. Pathfinder project examples are listed below. 

  • Potato Value Chain (Co-operative Food and Farms)
  • Milk/Chocolate Value Chain (Nestle and First Milk)
  • Fish (Sainsbury’s)
  • Onions (William Jackson)
  • Apples (Musgraves)

The whole-chain approach helps focus efforts on the most significant opportunities. It considers all forms of waste: product & materials waste; water; energy; time; space – and money. The method is based on WRAP's waste prevention problem solving discipline (W.A.S.T.E): collating data on inputs and losses across the value chain, root causes, key decision and intervention points; identifying and addressing those areas of biggest potential benefit.  

A toolkit for running similar ‘whole chain’ assessments is an output from these projects and is made up of a number of templates, tools and checklists to help you assemble a team and implement our tested problem solving approach. It also includes a True cost of waste screening tool to map where in the chain significant losses occur and where action can add real value.

Download the toolkit here.

See our questions and answers for more information.

Resource Efficient and Sustainable Buying – tackling hotspots at the ‘raw materials’ stage

WRAP and industry partners are currently developing a Best Practice approach and guidance for improving supply chain resource efficiency through procurement processes. The last working group meeting was held April 2014, where priorities were identified and discussed, with suppliers standards emerging as a significant area.  We are currently working to define and map out potential work in this area. 

The Raw Material Risk Tool described below also forms part of this workstream, and was discussed at the working group meeting in April.

Contact kate.bygrave@wrap.org.uk for further information.

Raw Material Risk Tool  

In conjunction with industry partners and the FDF, WRAP is developing a web-based Raw Materials Risk and Opportunity Assessment Tool to help food and drink businesses inform their sourcing strategies and decisions for a range of raw materials.

The tool will address the following key ‘needs’ identified by the group:

  • Enable users to view a risk profile and mitigation options for an agreed number of risk categories (covering environmental, social and economic criteria), raw materials (e.g. beef, sugar, potatoes, grapes) and source locations; 
  • Enable users to compare risk profiles for different raw materials, for different source countries and to prioritise by spend, volume and type of risk.; and 
  • Provide guidance on appropriate responses/solutions/contingencies to mitigate key risks and improve value chain resilience.  

A consultation process was held in June with key industry partners with regard to their needs for the tool.  This informed the raw materials, source countries and risk categories included in a Phase 1 tool – to be launched in the Autumn.  A TID for the development of the tool was issued in June.

Contact kate.bygrave@wrap.org.uk for further information.

Product Design & Development with J Sainsbury’s

This project will work with J Sainsbury’s plus at least one other organisation introducing them to tried and tested sustainable product design and development principles, approaches, tools and resources. The project aim is to embed this new thinking into their product design and development ‘stage gate’ (decision-making) processes and in key documents and guidance materials. The inital results are due from Summer 2014. 

Potato Value Chain (Co-operative Food and Farms)

This project was a farm to fork assessment of the potential to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency in the potato value chain. Detailed data on resource inputs and losses across the value chain was compiled internally by the Co-operative Food and Farms, with support from WRAP.

These have been translated into £ costs at each stage and sub-stage (e.g. grading, storage, washing, sorting etc.), to demonstrate the financial case for intervention and inform the cost/benefit of taking action to reduce losses and optimise inputs.  A number of potential solutions to mitigate losses were identified and an action plan to trial prioritised solutions implemented. The case study shows that by getting maximum value from its potato crop, the Co-operative Group can save up to £600,000 a year.  A guide to increasing profitability in the potato supply chain has also been developed.(Guide)

Milk/Chocolate Value Chain (Nestle and First Milk)

This project is a farm to fork consumer assessment of the potential to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency in the milk and chocolate crumb supply chain. A target of 5% waste reduction across the supply chain has been set. A project team within Nestle has completed a data analysis project which provided mass balance and losses across the value chain, to inform a root cause & solutions workshop and action plan.  The findings of this project will be reported later in 2014. 

Fish (Sainsbury’s)

This project is looking at temperature control and process optimisation in the Fish Supply Chain from catch to consumer, focusing on warm water prawns and white fish (cod/haddock) from 2 international suppliers. Data analysis from the value chain has been completed and is currently being discussed.

Onions - William Jackson

This project commenced in February 2014 and follows the whole chain principles looking at a single supplier UK chain. Findings are expected to be reported by Autumn 2014.

Apples - Musgraves

This project commenced in February 2014, looking at a single supplier UK chain. Findings are expected to be reported by Autumn 2014.

Unintentional Product Residue Pathfinder Project

This is a joint project between WRAP, INCPEN and Boots to determine the scale of unintentional product residue and associated causes for a selection of key products, and to estimate this more widely across the grocery and home improvement sectors. A research project was completed in February 2014.

The project engaged with key stakeholders (product & packaging manufacturers, retailers, policy makers, design community) at a workshop in May 2014. This informed recommendations for potential solutions to unintentional product residue. Download Report Wanted not Wasted: Unintended Product Residues Pathfinder A joint WRAP/INCPEN project