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M AKI N G F O O D

GO FU RT HER

A JOINT AMBITION FOR A
ZERO FOOD WASTE BRITAIN

Inspiring change

Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

INTRODUCTION
Unilever is working with its charitable partner
Hubbub and industry partners, to lead a UKwide movement helping people to value food
and reduce food waste. ‘A Joint Ambition for a
Zero Food Waste Britain’ outlines five key focus
areas which we believe will tackle the issue of
food waste and encourage more sustainable
lifestyles. It has been created in consultation
with 240 businesses and considers the views of
the UK public through polling a sample of more
than 2,000 householders.
We see our Joint Ambition as a catalyst to
addressing the issue of food waste. To turn our
Joint Ambition into reality we will strive to:
1. Identify further evidence of the benefits to
the UK economy in tackling food waste
2. Secure further support from a diverse
range of organisations and people.
3. Support a range of initiatives which will
help households in reducing their food
waste.
4. Engage with government, exploring
the role they can play to support
implementation.

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Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

WHY FOOD WASTE?
The UK produces 10 million tonnes of food waste annually, of which
7 million tonnes comes from households. Solutions must range from
helping households reduce the 4.2 million tonnes of avoidable waste,
through to creating a more coherent national infrastructure to handle
the 1.6 million tonnes of unavoidable food waste created each year.
The financial burden of food waste is felt throughout the UK economy.
The annual cost of avoidable food waste is £12.5 billion. Of the 4.7mt
thrown out by households and collected, less than 15% is recycled
(excluding home composting), leading to estimated annual disposal
costs of around £400 million1.
Environmentally, it is estimated that avoidable food waste is
responsible for 17 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year
- approximately 3% of the UK’s domestic emissions.
Socially, the sharp rise in use of food banks has shown that some
households in the UK are struggling to pay everyday bills and that
redistributing surplus edible food can help alleviate the pressures they
face.
With the UK’s growing population and the evident economic,
environmental and social costs, it is essential that we work together to
find more sustainable ways of managing and reducing our food waste.

All stats based on WRAP reports 2012-2016 except 1 is from Local Government
Association Local Waste Review June 2013.

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Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

VIEWS FROM THE
PUBLIC & INDUSTRY
The significance of food waste is recognised by the wider public. Our
public consultation discovered that:
• 99% of the 2,078 people polled in September 2015 thought
addressing food waste is important.
• A strong majority (84%) believe that access to recycling facilities
should be the same across the whole country.
• Two thirds (67%) think ways to reduce waste should be added to
the national curriculum.
• More than half (57%) said they would recycle more if there was a
consistent national communications campaign.
The message from the 240 businesses we consulted was that cutting
food waste requires changes across the entire food system and that
the burden of responsibility cannot be placed exclusively in the
hands of citizens. We need a collaborative approach, working with
government, business, local authorities, charities and households to
ensure there is a coherent approach to reducing food waste.
Consistent national messaging is required, making it clear that valuing
food and avoiding food waste in the first instance has to be the priority
ahead of responsible disposal. There was widespread agreement
that we need a consistent nationwide food waste infrastructure that
supports all households with the collection of food waste.
There was agreement that more needs to be done to create an
informed, educated and engaged public. This includes supporting
national campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste and educating
households through the use of blogs, social media and key influencers
for instance celebrities.

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Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

The research clearly indicated a need for a more collaborative approach
to addressing this important issue. Unilever, in collaboration with
industry partners, will contribute to creating a UK-wide movement of
change.
Our ‘Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain’ builds on the
consultation we have undertaken as well as insights from a roundtable
discussion held with experts from different sectors.

SO U R FACT S A B OU T F OO D
Avoid
ab
wast le food
e wo
rth

Around

400
Million

£12.5

in disposal
costs.

10Mt

food wasted
every year

7Mt

food & drink
waste from
households

Billio

n

4.2Mt
could be
avoided

3%

of UK’s
domestic
emissions.

1.6Mt

is inedible but
compostable

All stats
based on
WRAP reports
2012-2016.

PEOPLE WA NT A COLLAB O RATIV E APPRO AC H

57%
84%
want uniform
recycling facilities

want a national
communications
campaign

67%

want ways to
reduce waste
added to the
national
curriculum

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Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

MAKING FOOD GO
FURTHER
A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain
Unilever, together with Hubbub and industry partners
have created a Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste
Britain after close consultation with industry experts. It
sets out five collaborative steps which food and waste
industries believe need to be taken to help households
better understand the value of food and reduce food
waste

1 . CO L L AB O R ATE
2 . KE E P I T SI MPL E AND PR ACTI CAL
3 . B E CO NSI STE NT
4 . B UI L D SKI L L S AND KNO WL E DG E
5 . USE SCAL E

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1

C O L L A B O R AT E
We believe that government (national and local), businesses,
academic bodies and NGOs need to work together to help people
value the food we produce and help them waste less through
initiatives such as Courtauld 2025.
Our consultation revealed that there is scope to improve the
strategy for addressing food waste in the UK. There are some
effective local initiatives but it is difficult to get an overall picture
of exactly why food is wasted, what activities will make the biggest
difference and what collaboration is required.
Our consultation led us to conclude that key stakeholders need
to come together and accelerate the strategy to ensure people
value the food we produce and waste less. Indications from our
consultation and polling show there is a genuine desire to address
food waste collaboratively and any lead from government would
generate the much needed support and resources from a wide
range of organisations through initiatives such as Courtauld 2025.
One of the respondents to our consultation succinctly summed up
what the ambition should be for this greater collaboration:

“We need to connect the public to food
production, building a greater understanding
of the intense resources which are required to
produce our food and what it ultimately costs to
waste it, to ourselves and the environment.”

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2

KEEP IT SIMPLE AND
PRACTICAL
We need to work collaboratively to establish a simple and
practical approach which extracts the maximum value from the
food we produce, following the waste hierarchy.
We produce food to be eaten by people. This simple fact should
never be overlooked as we seek to extract the maximum value
from food. Our consultation strongly reinforced the view that we
should reduce waste in the first instance. This means ensuring as
much food as possible is eaten by people and only after this should
responsible forms of disposal be considered.
Respondents of our consultation agreed that too much emphasis is
placed lower down the waste hierarchy, which focuses on looking
at ways of preventing food waste from going to landfill rather than
exploring ways of maximising its value.
There was debate about how best to communicate this message to
the public with a strong feeling that terms such as ‘waste hierarchy’
should be avoided as it is too technical and not easily understood.

Organisations we consulted with told us:
“There should be an emphasis on preventing waste rather
than reacting to it. Waste reduction should be designed
into products and cycles from day one production.”
“Please don’t call it the waste hierarchy. Just make it a
common sense approach to food.”

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3

BE CONSISTENT
Simple, consistent communication is required to improve people’s
understanding of the financial, social and environmental value of
food.
A common theme from the consultation was that we are starting
to lose our understanding of the wider social and environmental
value of our food. There was a belief that if people fully
understood the amount of time, care and energy that is spent
getting food to our tables then they would be more careful to avoid
food waste. It was agreed that there needs to be a strong, simple
and consistent message to build this understanding.
Having a collaborative approach was also viewed as essential as
this would add credibility and ensure consistency. WRAP’s Love
Food Hate Waste campaign was frequently referenced as a strong
example of how this could work in practice.

Our consultation told us:
“Messages need to come from those who have the
public’s respect on food - chefs and cooks, children’s
cookery programmes, food companies (including small
ones), retailers.”
“Like seat belts, smoking, crossing the road, drink
driving. A single focussed, repeated campaign will work
better than lots of complicated multi-issue campaigns.”

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4

BUILD SKILLS AND
KNOWLEDGE
Together we need to help people gain the skills and knowledge
that will help them maximise the value of the food they buy and
support initiatives such as Love Food Hate Waste and Fresher for
Longer.
There was consensus between the public and companies that we
are in danger of losing skills and knowledge that help us to reduce
food waste. There was concern that kitchen skills are diminishing
which decreases our ability to find creative ways to use up food
that might otherwise be wasted.
It was questioned whether hints and tips from older generations
who had to cope with greater food restrictions are being passed
onto younger people. There was also agreement that poor
awareness on what date labels really mean is causing food to be
thrown away prematurely.
There was a feeling that kitchen skills need to be taught at an early
age and that this could be done through schools and through the
use of blogs, social media and key influencers such as celebrities.

People we consulted with told us:
“Tackling the issue at its source so that it becomes a
normal behaviour from childhood onwards.”
“Kitchen skills education needs to equip people with the
basics of making meals out of leftovers e.g. shepherds
pie out of a roast dinner, soups out of left over vegetables
etc.”
“Food waste is generation-related - those growing up
immediately post war will have been inculcated with the
value of food. Modern generations have not.”
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5

USE SCALE
We need to establish a Charter on Food Waste which identifies a
consistent nationwide food waste collection infrastructure.
Whilst most of our consultation responses urged us to concentrate
on stopping food being wasted in the first instance there was
agreement that there needs to be a consistent national food waste
collection infrastructure for inedible food. We believe a national
approach will bring wider benefits to the UK economy.
The current myriad of different recycling schemes in different
areas creates public confusion and we feel must add to cost and
lack of efficiency. We believe there has to be more standardisation
which will improve efficiency and make communication clearer,
easier and more effective. We believe a national approach will
bring wider benefits to the UK economy.

IN CONCLUSION

Our consultation process told us:
“A uniform waste and recycling service across Britain
would make use of the service much simpler and would
allow national advertising and policies.”
“We need to follow examples in other countries in the
EU where a single approach to recycling has been
adopted nationwide removing doubt, ambiguity and poor
practice.”

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Making
Making Food
Food Go
Go Further
Further || A
A Joint
Joint Ambition
Ambition for
for a
a Zero
Zero Food
Food Waste
Waste Britain
Britain

Our consultations and polling concludes that food waste is
recognised as a challenge that needs to be addressed for
financial, social and environmental reasons.
There is a clear desire for government (national and local),
businesses, academic bodies and NGOs to work collaboratively
to find sustainable solutions to solving food waste. Establishing
a coalition of committed stakeholders will help create a more
coherent solution and encourage wider support for practical
initiatives such as Courtauld 2025.
Unilever is committed to playing its part in creating a movement
and working with other organisations and initiatives such as
Courtauld 2025 and Love Food Hate Waste to establish a zero
food waste Britain.

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Making Food Go Further | A Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain

ABOUT UNILEVER
Unilever is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and
Personal Care products with 40 UK brands spanning 14 categories.
Our products are present in 98% of homes in the UK and are used by
over 2 billion people globally on a daily basis.
At Unilever our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace.
Framing this ambition is the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which
will help us to double the size of our business while reducing our
environmental footprint and increasing positive soial impact. As part
of our Plan one of our commitments is to halve the waste associated
with the disposal of our products by 2020. To achieve this we are
not only developing new technologies to minimise our waste across
our supply chain, but also encouraging consumers to recycle and live
more sustainably.

ABOUT HUBBUB
Inspiring change

Hubbub is a charity taking a fresh approach to environmental
communications by focussing on people’s passions such as fashion,
food, homes and sport. We avoid doom and gloom lecturing about
carbon footprints and instead are positive, sociable, collaborative and
open to all.
Why? We’ve listened to the latest scientific thinking and believe that
we need to change our lifestyles to protect the environment. Let’s do
it in a way that is fun, saves money and brings people together.

ABOUT WRAP
WRAP works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade
bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals to deliver
practical solutions to improve resource efficiency. WRAP’s Courtauld
Commitment 2025 is an ambitious voluntary agreement that brings
together organisations across the food system to make food and drink
production and consumption more sustainable – including tackling
food waste. WRAP also works with partners to increase recycling,
and leads the consumer campaigns RecycleNow and Love Food Hate
Waste to help individuals make changes.

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Inspiring change