With only four months until COP26, the UK has taken a bold step forward in reducing the impact food has on the natural world with a number of ambitious changes to its ground-breaking Courtauld Commitment voluntary agreement.
The Commitment is already helping the UK food and drink sector to deliver against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 to halve food waste. It will now also be central in achieving and monitoring progress towards Net Zero ambitions and convening action on water stewardship in at-risk food sourcing locations.
Foremost is the first industry-wide collaborative action towards a 50% absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with food and drink consumed in the UK by 2030 - a critical milestone towards longer term net zero objectives.
A pioneering focus on measuring carbon along the entire food chain and acting on the results is being driven by environmental charity WRAP. The charity delivers the Courtauld Commitment, and brought together more than 80 businesses, trade bodies, NGOs, government departments and other organisations to set the inspiring new GHG targets through the practical framework of the Courtauld Commitment.
The pioneering work of the Courtauld Commitment now aligns seamlessly with the wider global target on food waste reduction under the UN’s SDG 12.3. To reflect this synergy more clearly, a new moniker for the world’s most ambitious voluntary agreement for sustainable food means it becomes the ‘Courtauld Commitment 2030’.
The Courtauld Commitment 2025 launched in 2015 and was then a ten-year programme, to complete in 2025. Today, the agreement has strong membership with more than 90% of UK food retail as well as food manufacturers, the hospitality & food service sector, farmers & growers, redistributors and charities, trade bodies, local authorities and groups and businesses from across the lifecycle of food.
The programme continues to spearhead co-ordinated activity across the whole food system and provide expertise and a non-competitive space to convene collaborative activities, drive sector-wide change and monitor and measure progress against science-based targets. The core Courtauld Commitment targets have been recast to reflect the extension and expansion of the agreement, as follows:
- A 50% absolute reduction in GHG emissions associated with food and drink consumed in the UK by 2030, against a 2015 baseline
- A 50% per capita reduction in food waste by 2030 vs the UK 2007 baseline
- To achieve sustainable water management (quality and quantity) in the top 20 most important product and ingredient sourcing areas in the UK and overseas - covering 50% of product ingredients deemed ‘at risk’ from water insecurity.
Extending the Courtauld food waste prevention target to 2030, and aligning it with the global target to halve food waste, will mean that:
- UK food waste will be 800,000 tonnes lower in 2030 compared to 2025, saving food worth £2.4 billion (€2.77bn) a year by 2030 and the equivalent of 1.9 billion meals
- Between 2025 and 2030 the extended and more ambitious food waste target will result in 2,600,000 tonnes (2.6 million tonnes) of food waste being avoided over the five-year period; saving £8 billion (€9.2bn) of food from being wasted, and the equivalent of 6.2 billion meals