Climate action NGO WRAP and WWF-UK have joined forces with eight of the UK’s largest retailers to standardise measurement and reporting of GHG emissions from food and drink, and drive action on cutting the environmental impact of food and drink.
The group estimates that food and drink consumed in the UK is responsible for around 35% of territorial emissions. Its Retailer Net Zero CAP (Collaborative Action Programme) aims to take the sector towards Net Zero at the pace it says is needed to meet existing commitments and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
There is currently a range of different approaches and methods used to measure the carbon footprint of food and drink products, often resulting in confusion and inefficiencies across the sector. The absence of a consistent methodology is creating an unreasonable burden on producers and suppliers in food supply chains, generating mistrust in environmental reporting data and can block meaningful action on reducing the impacts of the food system.
In an unprecedented move of precompetitive collaboration in the highly competitive retail sector, eight leading retailers are coming together with WRAP and WWF to standardise how they measure and report on emissions data.
This standardisation aims to remove an important barrier to the food sector’s ability to meet challenging environmental targets, and it is hoped will increase trust and confidence in using this information to take action on high-impact areas. The collaboration will enable the sector to identify and address challenges that are too big or complex for individual businesses to tackle successfully alone.
The announcement builds upon the pledge to action on climate under the WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment for Nature group and WRAP’s Courtauld 2030 GHG target, which is aiming to achieve a 50% absolute reduction in emissions associated with UK food and drink by 2030.
WRAP and WWF have secured commitment from Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Waitrose, who represent around 80% of UK grocery retail market share, to a two-phased programme.
The first phase, in 2023, will ensure consistent measurement and reporting of their scope 3 GHG emissions, building on the WRAP Scope 3 GHG measurement and protocols in May 2023, and the piloting of these with 17 businesses across the food supply chain.
It will also focus on scoping high-impact areas for collaboration to accelerate progress on reducing GHGs from the huge amount of food that is sold in UK supermarkets. Phase 2, from 2024, will take action on these high-impact opportunities, and the investments needed to collaborate and meet targets. The programme will build an assessment of the action currently being undertaken by retailers on key areas of GHG mitigation and identify gaps. Using the Courtauld Commitment 2030 as a pre-existing governance vehicle, with widespread buy-in across the UK food sector, the programme will drive action on addressing these gaps.
Harriet Lamb, WRAP’s CEO explained: “We need to transform our food and drink system if we are to stand any chance of achieving our net zero goals and mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. This is the challenge of our generation, and it is encouraging to see the UK’s leading retailers stepping up to this challenge with focus and determination. We’re looking forward to cracking the nut of consistent measurement and reporting on greenhouse gas emissions in food and drink supply chains (scope 3), so that we can unlock action to reduce those emissions at pace and at scale.”
Kate Norgrove, executive director of Advocacy and Campaigns at WWF, said: “The food on our plates is driving climate chaos and wreaking havoc on nature – our main ally in the fight against climate change. Urgent action to address this crisis is non-negotiable and we welcome this key step from leading food retailers to align the sector on climate measurement and reporting. Food businesses must now supercharge the pace of climate action through this programme, to put the food system on a sustainable footing and bring our world back to life.”
Simon Roberts Sainsbury’s CEO said: “At Sainsbury’s we are moving quickly to deliver against our ambitious climate targets and taking bold steps towards achieving the goals we have set. The urgency of the climate crisis means that now, more than ever, industry wide collaboration is critical to accelerate progress at the speed and scale required to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Through joining forces across our industry, driving consistency in our approach to measurement and committing to the innovation required to find new solutions, we can truly move the dial. We look forward to working with WRAP, the WWF and other retailers to deliver meaningful and positive change for people, the communities we source from and our planet.”
Shirine Khoury-Haq, CEO at Co-op said: “We know as an industry that the reduction of carbon from our products is where we can make the biggest impact, and where we need to accelerate progress to meet our Net Zero commitments. Co-operation absolutely has to sit at the heart of how we approach challenge at this scale. It’s only through working together that we can drive transformational action, provide consistency for our shared supply base and the opportunity for transparent reporting.”
David Potts, CEO at Morrisons said: “At Morrisons we are working flat out with our colleagues, our suppliers and our farmers, to reduce our impact and to reach our climate targets on time. And as we all know, what gets measured gets done. So we welcome and support these initiatives to ensure greater consistency, more precise measurement and greater collaboration so that the UK food industry can face into critical climate challenges together.”
Liz Fox, Corporate Responsibility director at Aldi UK, said: “As a responsible retailer, we are committed to further reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We are pleased to be a part of the Retailer Net Zero Collaborative Action Programme, which will help create an efficient and consistent approach to reporting and enable cooperation across the industry to reduce supply chain carbon and meet our net zero targets.”
WRAP said it will ensure this work links with UK key initiatives on scope 3 data in food including the Food Data Transparency Partnership and the British Retail Consortium’s Mondra Coalition to ensure the approach taken to scope 3 reporting is both rigorous and practical.
The launch of the Retailer Net Zero CAP comes as WRAP also publishes a landmark new plan which sets out in practical detail how to transform the food system. Food System Transformation through the Courtauld Commitment 2030 shows the path for change and provides action-focussed guidance on exactly where the food and drink sector needs to act to achieve Courtauld 2030 targets.
Through collaborative action across the entire UK food chain, delivering farm-to-fork reductions in food waste, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and water stress, Courtauld 2030 is helping to ensure that the UK food and drink sector achieves UK and global environmental goals.
- You can read an exclusive interview with WRAP chairman in the latest issue of Food Management Today March/April here.