Courtauld results show packaging down and food redistribution up

22nd January 2015

The first year results of the Courtauld Commitment Phase 3, released today by WRAP, show an approximate 4.5% reduction of the carbon impacts of packaging, while food waste prevention efforts have led to 80% more food being redistributed.

Signatories’ efforts to reduce packaging, increase recycled content and use different packaging materials has contributed to a significant reduction in the carbon impact of packaging, which is down by around 4.5%, well ahead of the 2015 target of zero increase. 

While there has been little change in the overall manufacturing and retail waste against a 3% reduction target, signatories report an increase in recycling and recovery, with less material going to sewer or for disposal. Signatories have also reported a substantial increase in the volumes of unsold food redistributed for human consumption; almost doubling from 21kt to 38kt.

To ensure the target is met, a concerted effort by signatories is required to focus their activities on the implementation of more waste prevention and resource efficiency measures.  WRAP will be working with signatories to help them target their activity to achieve the most effective results. One aspect of this is the sharing of good practice.  WRAP has today published a series of case studies illustrating some of the changes introduced by signatories

Progress against the household food waste target is not collected yearly but will be available for final year reporting.

Dr. Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems at WRAP said: “I am delighted that progress on the packaging target has exceeded expectations and redistribution has increased significantly. There is still much to do before the end of this third phase though, with the biggest challenge being the manufacturing and retail target.  We will be working closely with signatories to help ensure all the targets are met.”


Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and we are determined to support food retailers and industry in their efforts to improve products, packaging and guidance which can help consumers to save money and avoid waste.

“Where appropriate surplus food should be re-used for human consumption and this report shows an impressive 80% increase in the amount we’re redistributing.

“Making the best possible use of our resources is vital and while there is still work to be done I congratulate everyone signed-up to the Courtauld Commitment for their efforts this year.”

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government is committed to helping businesses cut waste and increase recycling. Our innovative Resource Efficient Scotland service works closely with Courtauld signatories to help achieve this.  I welcome the progress the grocery sector is making on reducing the impact of packaging and food waste. I look forward to seeing the final results of this programme.”

Welsh Government Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant said: “The Welsh Government is committed to preventing food waste going to landfill, and this forms part of our Environment Bill proposals.  There is much work to be done, but I’m encouraged at the progress that Courtauld signatories have made in making the most of surplus food.  Food waste has environmental, social and financial impacts associated with its production, and more and more businesses are recognising the importance of this.” 

DOE Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I welcome the action that the grocery businesses are taking to reduce food waste and increase recycling. This will help to divert waste from landfill and is very much in line with the forthcoming Food Waste Regulations. I commend these businesses for taking this initiative which will deliver significant improvements to resource efficiency in the North.”


Notes to editors:

Total packaging weight reported by signatories decreased by 16kt (0.6%) to 2.67Mt despite the increase in the use of single-use transit packaging (up 16kt to 0.55Mt), which was outweighed by a 32kt reduction in primary packaging (down to 2.12Mt).  The measured change against the manufacturing & retail waste target (which combines food waste and single-use transit packaging as the main components) was a slight increase of less than 0.1% (in a total of 2.76Mt).

For packaging, the results are based on data from 47 out of the 53 signatories, who represent over 90% of the packaging within scope.  For manufacturing & retail waste, the results are based on data from 39 out of the 45 signatories with UK operating sites, who represent over 90% of the waste within scope.  Data from six signatories were not provided in time for the analysis, and will be included in year 2 reporting.  The results include five signatories who provided data for 2013 but were unable to report comparable data for 2012 due to major changes in their business, and their contribution will be measured from 2013 onwards.

UK companies have a Duty of Care to operate according to the principles of waste minimisation.  To make the waste hierarchy easier to use by businesses in the food and drink sector, WRAP has produced a specific food and drink material hierarchy, which sets out steps for dealing with waste to minimise the impact on the environment.

About Courtauld:

The Courtauld Commitment is funded by all four UK governments, and is run by waste prevention advisory body WRAP, with work in Scotland delivered in conjunction with Zero Waste Scotland. The voluntary agreement, which was set up in 2005, supports businesses to improve their overall performance and reduce their environmental impact. Phase 3 began in May 2013 and is due to complete in December 2015.

Courtauld Commitment 3 targets:

  • Packaging target: Improve packaging design through the supply chain to maximise recycled content as appropriate, improve recyclability and deliver product protection to reduce food waste, while ensuring there is no increase in the carbon impact of packaging by 2015, from a 2012 baseline. Taking into account external influences, this target represents a carbon reduction of 3% relative to anticipated sales volumes.
  • Manufacturing & retail target: Reduce traditional grocery ingredient, product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain by 3% by 2015, from a 2012 baseline. Taking into account external influences, this target represents a reduction of 8% relative to anticipated production and sales volumes.
  • Household food and drink target: Reduce household food and drink waste by 5% by 2015 from a 2012 baseline. Taking into account external influences, this target represents a reduction of 9% relative to anticipated changes in food and drink sales (this will be delivered by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign and the progress made will be reported at the end of the agreement). 

About WRAP:

WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits.

Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:

- re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,
- re-thinking how we use and consume products, and
- re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.

First established in 2000, WRAP is a registered charity.  WRAP works with UK Governments and other funders to help deliver their policies on waste prevention and resource efficiency. 

WRAP is a registered Charity No. 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No. 4125764. Registered office at The Old Academy, 21 Horse Fair, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 0AH.

Find out more about our work in our Business Plan


Shona O'Donovan

PR Manager
01295 819690

Ian Palmer

PR Officer, WRAP
01295 819 677