• Lee Calver
  • 3 June 2014

WRAP unveils tools to help tackle growing problem of food waste

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently published guidance outlining how to design effective food waste prevention programmes as it looks to help tackle the estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted globally every year.

In a week where news on upcoming changes to shared parental leave and the European Court ruling on commission and holiday pay dominated large proportions of the press, WRAP’s announcement perhaps went unnoticed.

However, the first version of the ‘Think.Eat.Save’ tool, which was released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WRAP as part of the Save Food initiative, has been hailed as a ‘landmark’ document.

Research shows that at least one third, which equates to 1.3 billion tonnes of food produced each year, is lost or wasted, and according to the FAO, almost half of all fruit and vegetables are wasted every year.

Furthermore, approximately 10% of developed countries’ greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never consumed, while food loss and waste amounts to nearly $680bn in industrialised countries and $310bn in developing countries.

When looking at these stats it is clear that drastic changes need to be made, and this new document, which draws on case studies from across the globe, provides a framework for businesses, Government and local authorities to work together across sectors and supply chains.

Commenting, WRAP CEO, Dr Liz Goodwin, said:

"We're delighted to see this Guidance Version 1.0 being published, and to have had the opportunity to work in collaboration with UNEP and FAO to develop it.

"Our work has helped consumers and businesses take significant strides to prevent and reduce their food waste in the UK. We hope that by assembling guidance and best practice from around the world it will encourage more action to tackle this crucial global issue.”

The guidance has been developed with four separate modules to ensure that it can be used flexibly as each country will undoubtedly be at different stages of reducing food waste. The four modules are:

Module 1: Mapping and measuring of food and drink waste

Module 2: Options for developing national or regional policies and measures for food and drink waste prevention and reduction.

Module 3: Developing and implementing programmes to prevent and reduce household food and drink waste.

Module 4: Preventing and reducing food waste in the food and drink business supply chain (manufacturing, retail, hospitality and food service).

Each of the modules has step by step sections covering purpose, prospective users and outcomes, guidance and summary.

Offering her insights, Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General for Natural Resources, said:

“Sustainable natural resources use is a key FAO priority. Fighting food loss and waste is an area in which partnerships are needed to reach the goal of eradicating hunger.

“This calls for effective governance systems and involvement of many stakeholders. We face a world with high and volatile food prices, urbanisation, and climate change where coordination of strategies to reduce food waste can make a real difference.”

The authors of the document have also called for feedback from Government departments and businesses on how they use the guidance as it was revealed that the ‘Version 1.0’ document will be enriched progressively as many more countries around the world begin to take on the challenge and start to see the benefits of food waste reduction.

Funds available for innovative waste prevention projects

In addition to help publish this new tool, WRAP has also recently launched a new £800,000 fund to help business partnerships bring about "innovative" waste prevention projects.

Funded by Defra as part of its Waste Prevention Programme for England, the scheme aims to generate more action to prevent waste.  

It specifically supports communities to take forward innovative waste prevention, re-use and repair activities in their local areas, working in partnership with local businesses, councils, charities and voluntary groups. The scheme can be used to help introduce a new business idea or to increase local re-use rates, resulting in potential new jobs and a boost to voluntary opportunities.

Launched last month, funding grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 are now available to partnerships with the most innovative ideas. WRAP stated that applicants can be from existing partnerships or ones newly formed to access the funding. All you need is an innovative idea to prevent waste and be able to match the funding that you are seeking to secure.

Commenting on the new fund, WRAP Project Manager, Jude Andrews, said:

"By working together on a local level, people can really make an impact on what's happening in their own community.

"Preventing waste is about finding ways to keep items in use longer and not generating as much waste in the first place. It's about rethinking the way we do things - redesigning and remanufacturing the things we use - changing attitudes and changing behaviours about what we buy and what we throw away, but most of all, working together and thinking creatively to do something about it."

To find out more about this opportunity, please click here.

Food firms invited to join new scheme

On top of all of this, London Mayor, Boris Johnson, last week invited 200 small food businesses  to sign up to a free scheme that he states will save 15 small London businesses more than £100,000 a year.

It was revealed that the pilot Food Save scheme helped the 15 firms achieve average annual savings of more than £6,000 in direct food costs and a reduction of 1.6 tonnes in actual food waste, with two of the businesses predicted to save over £10,000.

According to WRAP, more than 1.3 billion meals are wasted annually in the UK’s hospitality and food service sector, costing businesses an average of £10,000 a year. It has been reported that the Mayor’s Office wants the Food Save Initiative to divert more than 1,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill, reduce total food waste by over 150 tonnes and save firms more than £350,000 each year.

Speaking about the initiative, Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor's Environment Adviser, said:

"With Food Save, cafes, pubs and restaurants are learning simple ways to reduce the amount of food they throw away and saving thousands of pounds in the process.

"The Mayor now wants hundreds more businesses to get on board this great free scheme and help us dramatically reduce food waste across the city."

Food waste is clearly high on the agenda now, and it is important that businesses get involved. We want to hear to hear from anyone that is using or looking to use WRAP’s new guidance or applying for funds by submitting your innovative waste prevention projects.

We would also love to hear from companies that are doing all they can to ensure food waste is reduced – tell us what measures you have put in place, how you have ensured that all employees are engaged and willing to participate. Obviously there will also be hiccups along the way, and it is important to share both the positives and negatives we have all experienced in trying to prevent food waste.

It would be great to share all these stories and examples in our latest forum discussion group, which can be found here.