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Opportunities in reducing household food waste

Everything you need to know about IGD's Working on Waste campaign and what industry is doing to tackle household waste

About this article

IGD’s WoW campaign seeks to engage with employees, in their capacity as consumers, on household food waste. In particular, it helps them to reduce their food waste at home.

Having reached 650,000 employees in 2014 there is significant opportunity to improve both the quality of engagement with employees as well as its reach in 2015.

The Working on Waste Debates Series looks to bring together stakeholders from across the industry to discuss some of the key themes surrounding household food waste. Here's some food for thought from IGD senior sustainability analyst Alan Hayes.

Industry’s Challenges

In 2015, the UK’s food and grocery industry faces three major challenges:

  1. Intense retail competition
  2. Embedded and ongoing shifts in shopper behaviour
  3. Relentless downward pressure on margins

Food waste costs the food and grocery industry £19bn every year in the UKwhile avoidable household food waste (HHFW) is estimated at 4.2m tonnes, worth £12.5bn.

There is huge potential for industry to tackle this. Reducing these waste costs can contribute to leaner and more resource-efficient supply chains, mitigating the impact of the three major challenges outlined above.

Avoidable food waste is also associated with 17 million tonnes of CO2e emissions1 so every reduction in avoidable food waste will help to reduce these emissions and their consequent environmental impacts.

The benefits to industry from tackling household food waste are therefore twofold – financial and environments.

How does Working on Waste help?

The WoW Campaign has tremendous scope and potential. By engaging through employers with their employees, the campaign raises awareness of household food waste and empowers consumers to help reduce it.

This will:

  1. Help consumers (employees and their families) financially, as they can save money by wasting less food and drink
  2. Help industry to be more efficient as it reduces the amount of wasted food that is supplied
  3. Have a positive environmental impact, as less waste will mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions and fewer wasted associated resources, such as water

What else can industry do?

There is a clear economic benefit to the food industry in tackling the enormous costs associated with food waste.

These benefits are available now, with a compelling business case. Research by WRAP indicates that up to 50% of the savings from food waste are reinvested in smaller quantities of higher value food2. This opportunity for higher value sales is in addition to the benefits from supply chain efficiencies.

A great deal of work is being carried out by many companies as they seek to reduce waste within their operations. IGD has worked on waste prevention best practice for many years3 and started the Working on Waste programme in 2014 to address household food waste 4.

Recent research by IGD 5 has found that companies are adapting to the challenging times by focusing on the following three areas:

  1. Investment in better forecasting systems and better quality data
  2. Focusing on real benefits such as improved availability, lower inventory and reduced supply chain waste
  3. Developing cross-functional working as a core capability to support better forecasting

The benefits from reduced household food waste, when combined with the efficiencies that will accrue from these focus areas, could help deliver more resilient and sustainable supply chains across the food and grocery industry.

The WoW Debate Series

The Debate Series seeks to understand how industry can make the biggest possible difference on household food waste.

You may agree, partially agree or disagree with what I have written here. Therefore, please:

  1. Have your say by joining one of the WoW Debates if you haven't already
  2. Consult colleagues and bring their views along with you
  3. Better still, bring colleagues to one of the WoW Debates and enable them to have their say

Register here if you are not already registered to attend or find out more. 

References

  1. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Information%20sheet%20-%20reducing%20household%20food%20waste%20in%20the%20UK%202012_0.pdf
  2. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Econometrics%20Report.pdf
  3. http://www.igd.com/Research/Supply-chain/Waste-Prevention/
  4. http://www.igd.com/Research/Sustainability/Workingonwaste/Working-on-Waste-Summary-Report-2014/
  5. http://www.igd.com/Research/Supply-chain/Strategy-planning-technology/29295/Forecasting-demand-in-a-world-of-uncertainty/

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