Latest research published by WRAP’s Product Sustainability Forum (PSF) has led to supermarkets within the UK concentrate efforts on ways of improving the environmental performance of some of their products.
The Co-operative Group and Sainsbury’s as well as food industry giants Nestle are exploring ways to improve their waste reduction and recycling efforts.
PSF are supported by Defra, the Scottish Government and Welsh Government and is a collaboration of over 80 organisations made up of grocery and home improvement retailers and suppliers, academics, Non-Governmental Organisations and is chaired by WRAP’s chief executive, Liz Goodwin.
The report, An initial Assessment of the Environmental Impact of Grocery Products, present a number of analyses with the purpose of establishing which grocery products are likely to contribute most to the environmental impacts, such as, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, embedded energy, water use and material use.
WRAP has said that the research brings together product life-cycle data from more than 150published studies, as well as from PSF member and industry, making it the most comprehensive study of its kind.
Through the research carried out by the PSF, it has identified priority products, such as potatoes and bread, which offer significant opportunities for improvements across the different types of environmental impact.
Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP and chair of the Product Sustainability Forum, said:
“The main objective of this important research has been to establish which grocery products are likely to contribute the most to environment impacts associated with UK household consumption.”
“By gaining a better understanding of the products that matter in the context of UK consumption, we can help businesses to prioritise their efforts to improve the environmental performance of their products in areas that will generate the biggest economic and environmental savings.”
WRAP have announced that as a result of the research, the Co-operative Group, Nestle and Sainsbury’s are the first companies from the grocery and home improvement sectors that will pilot projects known as ‘pathfinders’, in order to target their efforts where many of the biggest environmental savings are to be found.
The Co-operative and Nestle will respectively look at waste prevention and resource efficiency measures across potato, milk and chocolate supply chains, while Sainsbury’s is focussing on its meat, fish, and poultry products as well as produce.
WRAP has also said that the Co-operative is engaging internal stakeholders across its entire fresh potato value chain, from farm to fork, to identify and implement opportunities to prevent waste and improve wider resource efficiency – including energy consumption, water consumption and GHG emissions.
The intention of this for WRAP is to learn from this exercise and replicate it across other fresh produce in the future.
Nestle is working on a collaborative project with its principal milk supplier in the UK – First Milk, supported by the PSF. As well as taking an integrated approach to tackling resource efficiency, WRAP said that the team are working with a group of dairy producers to pioneer new working methods.
WRAP claimed that these ‘pathfinder’ projects will also help to improve the resilience of supply chains and help to manage potential business risks and that more companies will follow.