FMCG giants commit to reduce packaging waste

LONDON - Nine of the biggest FMCG companies have agreed to reduce packaging waste by signing up to the government-backed Courtauld Commitment.

Britvic, Cadbury Schweppes, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Dairy Crest, Duchy Originals, Masterfoods, McBride and Nestle have all pledged to stop the growth of packaging waste by next year. Under the commitment they have also pledged to reduce packaging waste by 2010 and to find ways of cutting the 6.7 tonnes of food waste generated in the UK each year.

The new signatories join 13 retailers as well as Heinz, Northern Foods and Unilever in working to reduce packaging and food waste. The Courtauld Commitment is the first agreement in which manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to cut packaging.

‘We've reached a turning point. Since starting work on the project three years ago, we've seen a sea change in attitudes towards waste. We can now work more directly with both manufacturers and retailers and accelerate progress,' said Mark Barthel, special advisor to the retail innovation team at WRAP, the not-for-profit government funded agency behind the Courtauld Commitment.

‘This announcement is good news for the consumer and the environment. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits that reduced packaging waste brings, consumers will have less packaging to carry home from the supermarket and more space in their bins. Packaging reduction also delivers cost savings to business,' adds WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin.

The commitment comes after many of the UK major retailers have announced major environmental initiatives. Earlier this year, Marks and Spencer outlined its ‘Plan A' scheme to become carbon neutral in five years, while last year Tesco launched its Green Clubcard.

WRAP hopes that increased commitment to Courtauld will encourage consumers to think about packaging and food waste before the point of purchase rather than when they come to recycle it.

Recently, Asda was forced to ditch a scheme enabling consumers to ditch excess packaging at their checkouts due to a lack of interest.

‘The involvement of the manufacturers provides us with an early opportunity to find solutions to this problem,' says Goodwin.

WRAP is planning a major consumer campaign in the autumn to raise awareness of the food waste issue.

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