Liz Goodwin - UNEP Think.Eat.Save campaign

We’ve already heard today about the scale of the problem of food waste and the challenge it poses for us, and for our planet.

The potential prize is great, and that’s why WRAP is delighted to be a partner in this important campaign.

WRAP’s goal is to see resources used as efficiently as possible in a way which helps both the environment and the economy. We do this through leading edge research and by working with a range of partners to drive change.

Our own experience tells us that yes: change is possible, and all of us have a role to play in making that change happen.

Our benchmark research showed that every year in the UK we were throwing away around 15 million tonnes of food waste. More than half of this was created in the home, and over a quarter during the manufacture and retail of food.

Much of this could have been avoided – more than 4.4 million tonnes of the household waste, for example, could have been eaten.

Having identified the scale of the challenge, our task then become one of finding solutions: what could be done to reduce food waste, help people get the most from the food they buy and thus deliver environmental and financial benefits?

Our approach is one of partnership: we work with others to develop and deliver practical initiatives that help influence and change behaviour. We know this is the most effective way of making change happen.

For example, we created the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in 2007, which at its core has a free-to-access website which receives thousands of visits every year. This source of guidance helps consumers take easy steps towards change.

At the same time, we worked with the food industry to help simplify food labelling and advice to consumers. We set up the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement bringing together major players across the grocery retail sector, with the shared goal of reducing food and packaging waste.

How do we know if our approach has had any impact?

In November 2011 we were able to report that between 2006/07 and 2010, the amount consumers were throwing away had fallen from 8.3 million tonnes to 7.2 million tonnes.

This 1.1 million tonne drop – a 13% reduction! - demonstrates that progress is achievable. But it also shows that there remains much more to do.  In the UK, we are still throwing away around £12bn-worth of food a year.

Change cannot and will not happen overnight and in the UK, our experience certainly tells us that if we are serious about our goals, then we need patience, tenacity and a willingness to work together.

Our experience also tells us that there are other opportunities, for example in the wider food supply chain.  WRAP has a good understanding of some of these supply chain issues, particularly the opportunity to reduce waste in food manufacture and retail through our work with the Courtauld Commitment.

Waste in the supply chain – including food waste – was added to Courtauld 2 and two years into the agreement, food waste has reduced by 8.8%. And next steps include identifying and tackling the ‘hotspots’ in the food supply chain where most resource is lost.

We don’t claim to have all the answers. However, we do have knowledge and experience gained over time to offer, and we’re keen to work with organisations like UNEP, and other countries to discuss the opportunities for us all to help reduce food waste across the globe.

We therefore very much welcome Think.Eat.Save as an important first step on the global food waste journey and look forward to being part of this new campaign.

Thank you.

Partners and Supporters