LONDON –Grocery manufacturers and retailers in the United Kingdom have agreed to make significant cuts to food and packaging waste that could save customers and the industry £1 billion (US$1.5 billion) plus cut carbon emissions by three million tonnes, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced in a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (D.E.F.R.A.) news release.

Phase Two of the Courtauld Commitment will see the industry renew efforts to help householders waste less of the food they buy, reduce the environmental impact of packaging, and for the first time, address the waste from manufacture and supply, D.E.F.R.A. relays.

A consultation on new targets to recycle more than 70% of packaging waste was also published today that DEFRA claims could save approximately 8 million tonnes of waste from landfill, and 9 million tonnes of greenhouse gases by 2020.

“One-fifth of household waste is packaging, and more than half of this comes from the groceries we buy,” Mr. Benn said. “This packaging can be essential but in many cases using less and smarter packaging can achieve the same result. Grocery manufacturers and retailers have already started to take action and have halted the increase in packaging.

“I want to see members of the industry continuing to sign-up over the coming months,” he added.

Courtauld II runs from April 2010 to December 2012 and will:

• Reduce the carbon impact of grocery packaging by 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions (10% reduction) through reducing the weight, increasing the recycling rates and increasing the recycled content of grocery packaging.

• Help consumers reduce the amount of food they waste by 330,000t (4% reduction) saving £800million (US$1.2 billion) and more than 1 million tonnes of carbon emissions in the process.

• Cut food and packaging waste throughout the supply chain, saving around 0.7million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (5% reduction).

Phase I of the Courtauld Commitment successfully ran from July 2005 to March 2010. Over that time, its 42 signatories, including all Britain’s major supermarkets, succeeded in completely halting packaging growth – the Government’s Waste and Resources Action Program (W.R.A.P.) will announce results of efforts to reduce packaging and food waste later this year.

“One of the biggest challenges society faces over the next decade is reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy,” said Liz Goodwin, W.R.A.P. chief executive officer. This new agreement will bring about changes ranging from more efficient methods of production right through to the impact of household consumption.”

Signatories to Courtauld II include AG Barr, Alliance Boots, Apetito, Arla Foods, Asda, Britvic, Constellation Europe, Cooperative Retail, Dairy Crest, Danone Dairies, Danone Water, Fosters EMEA, HJ Heinz, Innocent Soft Drinks, Mars (UK), Morrisons, Muller Dairies, Musgraves, Nestle, Northern Foods, Robert Wisemans, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Unilever, Vimto, Waitrose, Warburtons and Weetabix.