Friday 28th October 2016                 Change text size:

Supermarkets commit to reporting food waste figures

food waste by Jbloom via flickr

All of the major grocery retailers have committed to publishing data on food waste created at the retail stage, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has confirmed. The move follows criticisms about the industry after it was revealed how much food was thrown away last year.

The retailers already provide data on waste in the supply chain to resource efficiency body WRAP but the new reporting commitments will allow consumers and organisations to see how much produce is thrown away in store.

The move is part of a wider series of commitments to make the industry more resource efficient. A report from the BRC sets out new targets after the 25 signatories, who represent half of UK retail by turnover, exceeded all their targets for reducing waste, energy and water usage up to 2013.

New targets set out in the report include a commitment to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% by 2020 and to divert less than 1% of waste to landfill by the same year.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, commented, “The strength and commitment is plain to see when you look at how much progress has been made in the last decade: for example, only 6% of waste was sent to landfill in 2013, down from 47% in 2005.

“But retailers will continue to keep momentum going: they recognise that it makes business sense and delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers.”

A report commissioned by the UK’s Global Food Security found that retailers can refuse edible products simply because they don’t satisfy shape and blemish standards. This has result in up to 40% of edible food never reaching supermarket shelves because they are aesthetically unpleasant.

Consumers also have a role to play in reducing food waste. A report published in November last year found that households were still wasting 4.2 million tonnes of food every year, despite the amount of avoidable food waste falling 21% since 2007.

A government report has previously called on Britons to tackle food waste in order to improve food security and combat inequality.

Further reading:

How fruit and veg auctions are putting ‘real food’ on tables every day

Tesco to put ‘ugly’ fruit and veg on special offer to cut waste

World wasting up to half of global food

Resource efficient food in a changing, growing world

Food waste decreases – but Britons are still throwing away 24 meals a month

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