Although there is a lot that consumers can do to reduce their waste, manufacturers and retailers also play their part. In 2005 the government-funded Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP), launched the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary scheme to encourage waste reduction in the UK grocery sector. Food manufacturers, brand owners, suppliers and retailers were approached to sign up to the commitment, thereby pledging to make their practices more resource efficient as well as reducing food and packaging waste.
There are lots of ways big companies have helped to reduce waste:
Packaging has been ‘optimised’, or improved, so that it is either reduced overall; helps protect food better (reducing food wastage) or helps food stay fresher for longer.
- On-packaging guidance to consumers on food products in particular has been made clearer so that when we buy something we more easily understand how to store food or when it is safe to eat.
- Many of the big retailers have begun promoting a food waste reduction message to their customers too. Supermarkets offer information and tips, such as recipe ideas for leftovers via online tools or leaflets.
- By ensuring they recycle more or by improving the recyclability of their packaging, for example by making the packaging out of a single recyclable material, rather than two that are difficult to separate, companies have also reduced the environmental impact of packaging waste.
Sustainable way of living
Our modern consumer lifestyle requires a constant supply of energy and resources which simply cannot be sustained. There is a tendency for us to make use of something and then simply discard it. ‘Closed loop’ is a term used to describe a more efficient and sustainable way of living. Lots of items or materials that we ordinarily throw away still have potential to be reused or recycled. Do your bit to support a closed loop economy:
- Choose products made from recycled material, such as toilet rolls, kitchen towels, tissues, writing paper, bin liners, pens, and rulers.
- Try to buy items with reduced packaging. If there is packaging, make sure it’s recyclable or made from recycled material.
- Consider repairing broken items. Items that are no longer needed or wanted can be listed on community giveaway websites such as Freegle and Freecycle.
- Share items and services with your neighbours by joining Streetbank.
If we cannot reduce or reuse waste, recycling it still ensures a ‘closed loop’ because we utilise the full potential of a material. Recycling is also cheaper. It costs less to local authorities and uses a lot less energy to manufacture with recycled materials, instead of raw materials. Contact your local council to find out what recycling services are available to you.