The survey, published in conjunction with WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), suggests that just 3% of food companies’ food and packaging waste went to landfill in 2012, compared to 16.5% in 2006.
The FDF found that one of the main ways in which companies had reduced landfill waste was by finding other uses for it – especially by redirecting it to animal feed. Meanwhile, 28% of total waste was recycled, including 96% of used packaging.
Head of Food and Drink at WRAP Andy Dawe said in a statement: “With waste to landfill now so low, businesses should grasp the opportunity to focus on the greater financial savings achievable through focussing on waste prevention.”
The FDF has a target to eliminate all food and packaging waste to landfill by 2015, and it says “the vast majority” of manufacturers have already met the zero waste target.
Dawe added that WRAP could help businesses work out how to prevent waste in their supply chains, “making large financial and environmental savings”.
FDF director of sustainability Andrew Kuyk said: “Tackling food waste is a key priority for our industry, both to make what we have go further but to also help conserve the natural resources on which future production depends. These latest findings highlight that FDF members are close to achieving our zero food and packaging waste target by ingraining good environmental practices to deliver a more resilient and resource efficient supply chain.”
In September, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released a toolkit for food companies to assist in waste reduction. It said that sending waste to landfill should be a last resort only, even though it is currently the number one waste disposal strategy globally.
Food wastage amounts to about 1.3bn tonnes of food each year, according to the FAO, either through losses at the farming and production level, which happens mostly in developing countries, or through waste at the retail, manufacturing and consumer level, which is more common in developed nations.
According to recent WRAP research, UK consumers have also taken the waste reduction message to heart, and cut avoidable household waste by 21% from 2007 to 2012.