UK businesses involved in the three year voluntary Hospitality and Food Service Agreement (HaFSA), aimed at preventing food waste, saved around £67 million through their combined actions from 2012 to 2015, according to the final report on the initiative.
The initiative was developed by WRAP with the industry, for the industry, and supported by all UK governments. It was launched in 2012 with the aim of reducing waste and increase recycling rates within the sector in the UK.
Over 230 leading signatories and supporters signed up to support these aims, covering approximately 25% of the UK sector - calculated by food and drink sales, including wholesale and distribution.
The HaFSA had two key aims, which were owned by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and collectively delivered by signatories:
- Prevention target: To reduce food and associated packaging waste arising by 5% by the end of 2015. This was against the 2012 baseline and was measured by CO2e emissions saved.
- Waste Management target: Increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste recycled and sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to at least 70% by the end of 2015.
According to the final report HaFSA signatories were particularly successful in reducing food and packaging waste for their sector, exceeding the 5% target and achieving an 11% reduction against the baseline. The final year reduction in waste arising was 31,000 tonnes lower than the baseline, the equivalent of 80,000 tonnes less CO2e.
The baseline year is either 2012 or 2013 for each signatory depending on data availability. This is primarily due to some signatories joining the agreement in 2013.
Food waste prevention activities were found to have saved an estimated 24,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away cumulatively over three years, the equivalent to 48 million meals with a value to businesses of £67 million.
Redistribution of surplus food was also said to have doubled during the agreement to 760 tonnes, equivalent to 1.5 million meals.
WRAP explained that this target was delivered through a number of actions, including the creation of a food waste prevention working group and the development and delivery of training.
Working with signatories to monitor and measure food waste to highlight the cost of waste was fundamental in driving forward changes to improve operational efficiency, save money and raise customer satisfaction. Best practice guidance was also produced for the sector.
The second HaFSA target centred on improving overall waste management, with signatories working to increase the combined rate of food and packaging waste recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to at least 70% for their sector.
According to WRAP significant improvements in both food and packaging recycling streams for their sector led to an increase of one third on the baseline year and a final result of 56% (up from 42%), but less than the target of 70%.
This increase was said to be possible through a number of actions including the creation of a waste management working group.
Best practice guidance was also produced for the sector, and technical support offered to businesses to review existing waste management services and assist in developing new schemes through contract clauses for food waste and recycling collections.
A contributing factor to not fully meeting the ambitious target was the length of time required to implement new contracts and incorporate food waste collections. While good progress has been made, having the time to put processes into place was the limiting factor to what was possible within the lifetime of HaFSA.
Steve Creed, director business programmes at WRAP: “The sector has taken huge strides implementing measures to prevent food waste and realised individual and sector wide benefits. While it’s disappointing not to have met the waste management target in full, big improvements have been made. To see food waste recycling increase by more than half and packaging recycling at nearly 70% for signatories is very impressive. And nearly 100,000 tonnes of food and packaging waste has moved up the waste hierarchy to recycling.
“The HaFSA has proven to be a catalyst for industry, providing the motivation and inspiration to help big changes happen in the way the sector does business, and saving it money at the same time. The next step is to build on this good work with Courtauld 2025 and have more businesses working in collaboration to make resource efficiency central to how our supply chain operates, from farm to fork.
“The ambitious ten-year Courtauld Commitment 2025 aims to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink in the UK by at least one-fifth per capita, and reduce the impact of water use with cumulative savings of around £20 billion. It is creating partnerships across the entire food supply chain and a number of HaFSA signatories are already engaged in working groups, piloting an approach to help the sector monitor and measure surplus food, expected to be rolled out in 2017.”
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