A number of the UK's most well-known companies have signed up to schemes designed to reduce waste to landfill and increase UK recycling rates.
Associated British Foods, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kraft Foods, Premier Foods and Proctor & Gamble are the latest big names to join the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary government-run scheme that sees retailers commit to meeting a string of waste-reduction targets.
The original Courtauld Commitment, launched in 2005, focused on weight-based goals. The second phase, implemented in March 2010, aims to achieve a more sustainable use of resources over a lifecycle period. Targets in the commitment include reducing traditional grocery packaging by five per cent, reducing household food and drink waste by four per cent and reducing the carbon impact of packaging by 10 per cent by 2012. The agreement is signed between retail companies and the government-backed Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP)
Already nearly 30 high-profile companies have signed up, including Asda, Boots, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Marks & Spencer.
Another waste reduction scheme that has benefited from new signatories is the Halving Waste to Landfill initiative. WRAP has announced that two of the UK's biggest construction firms, Barratt Developments and Hanson UK, have signed up to the program, which has seen 540 firms commit to cutting the amount of waste levels by 50 per cent.
"One of the biggest challenges society faces over the next decade is reducing the environmental impact of the things we buy and build," said Liz Goodwin, chief executive of WRAP. "These responsibility deals bring about changes that deliver both commercial and environment benefits.
"Building a sustainable business is not only about protecting the environment. With it comes a leaner, more efficient business that strips out waste and saves money. The voluntary approach allows industry sectors to move as one and deliver change without government intervention."
The announcements came in the wake of reports suggesting that councils are considering restricting the number of black residual waste bags households use each year, potentially imposing fines if 'waste allowances' are exceeded.