Resource efficiency charity WRAP has pledged to reduce the resource intensity of the UK’s food and drink by one-fifth, saving £20bn.

On behalf of the government and devolved administrations, it has unveiled “a pioneering commitment”, which brings together organisations from across the food industry to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable for the future.

As well as a £20bn saving to the economy, WRAP wants leading organisations from across the food chain to work together to tackle food and drink waste, greenhouse gas emissions and water intensity. Ninety-nine signatories, including all the major UK food retailers, as well as brands, foodservice companies, trade bodies and local authorities, have already signed up.

Supermarket signatories include Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, The Co-operative Food, Aldi UK, Lidl and the Central England Co-operative.

Other notable signatories include Associated British Foods, Birds Eye UK, Premier Foods, Warburtons, the British Retail Consortium, the British Sandwich & Food to Go Association, the Food and Drink Federation and the Food Standards Agency.

The Courtauld Commitment 2025, as it is called, is a voluntary agreement “to work along the entire food chain to reduce the environmental impact of our food and drink, from farm to fork and beyond”. Signatories announced at its launch represent over 93% of the 2016 UK food and drink market share. 

The commitment has three targets:

  1. A 20% reduction in food and drink waste arising in the UK
  2. A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of food and drink consumed in the UK
  3. A reduction in the impact associated with water use in the supply chain.

Signatories will work together with WRAP to identify new actions and opportunities to save resources, which can be shared across the entire supply chain to make the whole system more sustainable and resilient to disruptions. Signatories also commit to implementing changes, measuring the benefits, and helping other businesses and people to realise savings.

Safeguard UK food

Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, said: “To safeguard UK food we need a step-change to increase sustainable food and drink production and consumption, conserve resources and combat climate change. Courtauld 2025 will do this.

“Collaboration has never been more important… I look forward to welcoming other leading organisations as signatories over the coming weeks, months and years, and delivering this ambitious agreement.”

Resources Minister Rory Stewart said: “Food waste - at any stage from the farm to the house - is something we should avoid. It wastes precious water and resources.  

“Under the last framework we have already reduced food waste in the supply chain by 10%. And this team-work and leadership should allow us to go much further.”