Why take action: the commercial case

Cut your costs

The overall value of food waste from the food and drink supply chain is estimated at £2 billion a year. This translates to between £360 and £4,000 per tonne of waste. So it‘s easy to see that the potential savings of waste prevention actions are substantial. 

From our waste prevention work with businesses, WRAP has found that the average waste reduction potential for a manufacturing site or retailer is £1m from just the top few no/low cost waste reduction opportunities.

Carlsberg UK, is expecting to save £206,000 annually and reduce waste by 263 tonnes as a result of two waste prevention initiatives.

It’s not always easy to understand exactly how much waste you are producing and what the true cost of waste is – many companies significantly underestimate this cost. In the UK, the typical cost of waste is between 4% and 5% of company turnover, but can be as high as 10% in some cases.

WRAP’s research shows how the actual value of waste varies across the supply chain, as shown in the table to the right.

How does your company calculate the cost of waste to your business? Does it account for more than just disposal costs? To get to the true value of waste you need to take into account: the cost of the ingredients, packaging, energy, water, labour, storage, transport and lost margin as well as disposal costs.

WRAP’s formula for calculating the true cost of waste 

Improve supply chain resilience

The traditional supply of materials and ingredients is under threat as a result of finite resources, price volatility, a changing climate, increasing global population and the increasing prevalence of western diets. To remain competitive, businesses need to assess the risks associated with their supply chains and make changes where necessary to ensure they are resilient to these factors and that their business has a sustainable future.

By preventing waste from arising, you are not just reducing waste within your business, but preventing the waste of resources across the whole product lifecycle – from field to consumer. This reduces the associated risk of supply and increases resilience of your whole supply chain.

There are many examples of how waste can be prevented in the supply chain on our website, including:

Preventing 1 tonne of food waste from going to landfill saves 5 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent)

Your customers expect it

Major retailers and food manufacturers are taking waste prevention and sustainability seriously as part of their corporate social responsibilities. Many are putting environmental commitments at the core of their activities and expecting their suppliers to do the same. You will need to be able to respond to this and demonstrate how your company is also taking steps to prevent waste and use resources more efficiently.

Sainsbury’s has set out its commitments to environmental improvements in its 20x20 Sustainability Plan. Sainsbury’s would like its suppliers to be meeting or exceeding its own environmental standards. Having already achieved zero waste to landfill by 2010, Sainsbury’s aims to not only reduce its impact on the environment, but to also have a net positive effect by encouraging suppliers to do the same.

Consumers expect it

In Asda’s shopper survey, ‘71% of respondents stopped buying a product because they had previously wasted it’.  Consumers want manufacturers and retailers to help them reduce waste in their homes and expect them to do their bit to reduce waste in the supply chain – and the industry needs to respond to this.

Good for customers, good for the environment
When Warburtons changed their loaf sizes to help prevent waste they received positive consumer feedback with many contacting the Customer Care Line with their comments, including this encouraging example:
“Just seen your ad on the new 600g loaf. All I can say is WELL DONE & ABOUT TIME! It's been my rant for years that single people either have to buy miniscule loaves, or throw most of the big ones away”

What your company can do

Firstly, see if your company is taking WRAP’s recommended ‘5 Key Actions’ on waste then use the further resources provided to help you tackle the specific causes of waste.

Don’t forget to reap the full business benefits of reducing waste by letting your customers know what you are doing and how you are helping consumers reduce waste in their homes.

Why take action? See also: