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Retailers take action to prevent food waste

10.10.12 | News

Retailers have committed to take voluntary action in waste prevention, particularly on food waste. At the Retail Forum in Brussels yesterday they confirmed their continued belief in the need to move to a resource efficient economy in spite of the challenging economic situation. Looking to the sustainability goals they had set themselves in key areas in precious years, such as selling more green products, they noted strong progress.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Food waste is economically bad, and morally bad. That is why the Commission has set out to halve edible food waste by 2020. Retailers come into play at the crucial moment where consumers make their buying decisions. They have an essential role, indeed a responsibility, to guide consumers towards more sustainable choices. Retailers should spearhead the creation of the green economy by taking progressive actions that go beyond the easy pickings. Today we see them take a good step in the right direction, targeting food waste."

“As largest European retailers, we will continue to innovate on the global scale needed to ensure a greener economy. Our ambition is to reach one common approach on the environmental footprint of products. Thus, improving the performance of the supply chain and communicating even more effectively on the sustainability of products to our customers” said Dick Boer, President of the European Retail Round Table (ERRT).

“These examples highlight that, despite the crisis, retailers are encouraging customers in their transition to more sustainable lifestyles. The challenge for retail is to make the sustainable choice the easy choice for consumers, and where possible, we will accompany them along the way” said Dame Lucy Neville-Rolfe, President of EuroCommerce.

Retailers in the Forum pledge to carry out specific environmental actions to contribute to sustainable consumption and resource efficiency. The number of environmental commitments has increased by 30% in one year to over 500, made in 3 categories (“what we sell”, “how we sell” and “communication”).

This year 19 Retail Forum members came forward with their own initiative on waste, they pledged to run campaigns raising awareness on waste and food waste prevention and reduction. This initiative will complement relevant EU policies on waste, as set out in the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. For example halving edible food waste by 2020, making waste a resource and virtually eliminating landfilling. Signatories of the initiative will report on the achieved results at upcoming Retail Forum meetings.

The Commitments made by Forum members increasingly focus on providing more sustainable products on retailers' shelves, such as sustainable seafood, textiles, organic and fair-trade products and certified wood and paper. A number of best practice achievements have been highlighted at the 2012 Annual Event. For example, IKEA ensured that as much as 86% of store waste is recycled and have developed sustainable cotton projects in supplying countries that covers 100,000 farmers. C&A has doubled the sales of organic cotton in 3 years to reach 32 million items last year. Many retailers have expanded the range of fish from sustainable sources, such as the Metro Group, while the REWE Group provided detailed information to consumers on the highly sensitive issue of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables.