Supply chain efficiency and lean manufacturing will be integral to slashing UK food and drink refuse, according to Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the organisation spearheading the cause.
Andy Dawe, head of WRAP’s food and drink programme, told FoodProductionDaily.com that lean techniques as a way of reducing waste before it was even created were crucial.
“System change is not easy. That’s where there is a significant opportunity. There’s also an opportunity to press the benefits of lean manufacturing.
“Acting as a catalyst for change WRAP, with the support of trade organisation partners the Food and Drink Federation, the British Retail Consortium and [grocery think tank] IGD, feels much more that it can be active there.
Production efficiency and lean thinking was addressed in phase two of the UK industry-wide voluntary Courtauld agreement to cut waste and environmental impacts, which was introduced in 2009, said Dawe. Phase one was launched in 2005.
But Dawe stressed its importance for waste reduction in the immediate future.
WRAP today announced an 8.8% reduction in supply chain waste, which was added to the agenda of Courtauld 2 last year. This was ahead of the three-year 5% target it set in 2009.
Packaging targets were also more than three quarters of the way to the target 10% reduction by the end of 2012, the organisation said.
There were also knock-on benefits of reducing rubbish by overhauling production and supply chain systems, he said. He gave the example of supermarket chain Sainsbury.
“Sainsbury reviewed its procurement and delivery strategy and came up with a real-time supply chain system that not just increased on-shelf availability by 2.2% but cut product waste by 2%.”
Hard work on date labelling had also helped to reduce waste, he said. “[UK baker] Warburtons has taken away display dates completely. Now its best before labels are followed by one number in brackets that shows [retail] staff how many days prior to the best before date products can be displayed.”
Lightweighting had delivered some of the biggest waste reduction benefits so far during Courtauld Phase 2, said Dawe.
Andrew Opie, food and sustainability director at UK retail trade group the British Retail Consortium, said: “These are great results against ambitious targets. This independent assessment shows food retailers are successfully working with their suppliers and customers to reduce waste and achieve major environmental gains.!