The UK has been named “exemplar” in its efforts to reduce food waste, with the annual progress report published by WRAP and IGD now receiving the support of more than 210 businesses across the food industry.

The UK’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and its strategy of Target-Measure-Act is one of the initiatives that prompted the Champions 12.3 coalition to name the UK an “exemplar” country in its global progress report on Sustainable Development Goal.

The report shows a growing adoption of the Target-Measure-Act approach to food waste prevention with more than 70 new organisations committing to the Roadmap in the last twelve months.

Retailers feature prominently, with Tesco, the first retailer to invite its suppliers to adopt the Target-Measure-Act approach to food waste in 2017, expanding its scope geographically along its supply chain. Now, 54 UK Tesco suppliers share food waste data publicly, including a number overseas.

Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have become the first retailers to begin new ‘Whole Chain Projects’ under the Roadmap guidance. This programme is the next major stage in the Roadmap and involves businesses working together across the supply chain, from farm-factory-warehouse-store to identify ways to reduce food waste at each step.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the issue of food waste sharply into focus for our industry, which will need to manage resources even more efficiently in the future.”

The hospitality and foodservice sector has seen big names join the Roadmap despite the disruption of lockdown, with Burger King UK, McDonald’s UK and Pret A Manger also joining.  

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO and Champion 12.3, said: “In January we reported that the UK was mid-way to completing its part in SDG12.3. Despite huge disruptions to the supply chain since then, food waste has remained a priority for most food and drink businesses and the Roadmap has become a blueprint towards our Courtauld 2025 targets, and the global goal.

“We must prevent a further 1.8 million tonnes of food from going to waste by 2030. Most from our homes, but more than half a million tonnes through the further actions of retail, manufacturing and hospitality and foodservice businesses. We need around 400 more food businesses to commit to the Roadmap and Target-Measure-Act. It’s also important that more businesses publish their data and insights, to help accelerate the collective effort. The rest of the world is looking to the UK to continue to lead the way, and the stakes are too high in terms of the environmental, economic and social costs of food waste for us to fail.”

Susan Barratt, CEO of IGD, said: “The food we produce and consume to sustain us is also one of the biggest contributors to climate change. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the issue of food waste sharply into focus for our industry, which will need to manage resources even more efficiently in the future.

“I’m delighted that the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap has continued to make significant progress in 2020. We have seen the number of companies pledging their support to the roadmap increase, with some big new names on board. Against the hugely challenging backdrop of the last few months, this is no mean feat – and shows how businesses understand the need to keep building resilience into their DNA. The future looks set to remain challenging, yet our work on the critical issue of food waste must continue apace.”

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “Reducing food waste is a hugely important part of making both our food industry and wider society more sustainable, and it lies at the heart of this Government’s goal to recycle, reduce and reuse more of our resources.

“The Food Waste Reduction Roadmap is an integral part of this effort, and I commend WRAP, IGD and the Roadmap’s signatories for such sterling efforts during what has been a very challenging year. Many food businesses are also demonstrating how innovative and effective they can be to tackle this serious issue.

“With this progress report we can look forward to next year when we will go even further and faster to reduce food waste across the country, from farm to fork.”

Government food waste champion, Ben Elliot, said: “It is an environmental imperative that we reduce food waste to stop the needless waste of resources, energy and water used to make our food, as well as the time, skill and dedication that goes into growing, making and serving it.

“As a nation we’ve made excellent progress in tackling food waste, but there’s more we need to do, both in the food sector and as individuals in our daily lives.

“I urge all businesses to commit to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and the principles of Targeting, Measuring and Acting so that we can go even further to tackle food waste.”