Guidance on Food Waste

Managing waste is good business however can be complex. The following information has been pulled together to support you to identify and reduce food waste – whilst it is framed around resource efficiency and sustainability, any initiative you conduct to reduce waste is likely to also have a positive impact on your P&L.

1General Information

Food waste is a huge global issue both socially and environmentally. Addressing food waste not only has environmental and social benefits, but it can also drive commercial benefit.

A study prepared on behalf of champions 12.3 showed that for every pound invested in waste it provides a £14 return so it’s important that we work with you collaboratively to address this issue. The UN sustainability Goals were developed in 2015, SDG 12 seeks to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for cutting in half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including post-harvest losses) by 2030.


The Definition of Food Waste 

Food Surplus:
Describes any food and inedible parts that are sent to the following:

  • Redistribution to people (e.g., through a charity or commercial redistributor) 
  • Animal feed 
  • Bio-based materials/biochemical processing (e.g. feedstock for other industrial products)

Food Waste: 
Describes any food and inedible parts sent to any of the Food Waste Destinations listed below:

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Composting/aerobic processes
  • Not harvested/ploughed in
  • Incineration
  • Sewer waste water treatment

Best practice is to follow the Food Waste Hierarchy, avoiding any waste to landfill.

Useful Links

UN Sustainability Goals 



2Set a food waste target which aligns to SDG12.3, measure and put a plan to deliver against target.


1Step 1: Target - Set a food waste reduction target for your own operations

  • Be ambitious.
  • Champions 12.3 aims to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.


2Step 2: Measure - Measure in a consistent way, and share what you’ve learnt


  • Align with the Global Food Loss & Waste standard 
  • WRAP have a template to support consistent reporting 
  • Best Practice is to publicly report your data ahead of mandatory reporting.

Best Practice Reporting:

  • Follow the industry standard guidelines
  • Complete your data on an annual basis using the global template
  • Submit that to WRAP
  • Wrap will share that with the WRI for those signed up 10x20x30
  • Your data will be uploaded into the Food Waste Atlas portal (aggregated or individually as nominated by you)
  • Publish your data via your own channels or via a case study on the WRAP website.

Upcoming Legislation 

  • Mandatory Food Waste reporting legislation is expected in the UK.


3Step 3: Act - Take action to reduce your own food waste, work in partnership with suppliers and help consumers reduce their food waste.

Use data to plan and deliver food waste reduction actions across your own business operations, and work in partnership with suppliers and engage consumers,  to reduce food waste from farm to fork.

  • Map your end to end operation
  • Understand your hot spots 
  • Discover your root cause - understand what is driving the waste
  • Follow the food waste hierarchy, reduce, re-use, recycle, recover 
  • Consider how to support customers through best practice on food labelling, packaging innovations to extend life, reviewing order cycles, storage technology and much more! 

Case Studies

Sainsbury’s, WRAP, Fuller Foods & Lamb Weston together conducted the UK’s first Whole Chain Food Waste Reduction project looking at the frozen chip end to end supply chain. This end to end approach helped to unlock over 8 tonnes of food waste.
•    Sainsbury’s, WRAP, Fuller Foods & Lamb Weston Report

WRAP – Sector case studies 
•    Production and manufacture case studies | WRAP


3Have a Food Redistribution partner (for own brand suppliers, find an approved list in the Sainsbury’s Brand Supplier Manual).

Surplus food is an unfortunate but inevitable consequence for many businesses - it is therefore essential your strategy includes food redistribution, as well as waste prevention.

With 1 in 9 people going hungry across the world we all have a role to play in supporting social sustainability in our communities and preserving the resources used in food production by ensuring surplus gets to people in need.

We encourage all suppliers to have a food redistribution partner for their operations. For own brand suppliers an approved list can be found in the Sainsbury’s Brand Supplier Manual. These providers can work across farms, factories and retail outlets.

Useful Links

Our Approved Food Donation Partners:



WRAP is an industry leading NGO, which many UK and international businesses engage with on circular economies, resource efficiency and food waste – Sainsbury’s values its relationship with WRAP and encourages all of its suppliers to join to ensure you receive the same benefits as us.

The Courtauld Commitment is a voluntary agreement which brings together organisations across the food system to make food & drink production and consumption more sustainable. Signatories agree to work on targets in a number of areas, one of which is Food Waste. IGD and WRAP have led on creating the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to define how the UK food industry will help achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

WRAP are currently offering Northern Irish suppliers the opportunity for 1-2-1 support on engaging in the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, please reach out to gavin.milligan@wrap.org.uk if you are interested.

Useful Links

•    What is the Courtauld Commitment
•    WRAP – Food Waste Reduction Roadmap
•    Progress Report - Food Waste Reduction Roadmap Progress Report 2020 | WRAP
•    WRAP’s whole chain food waste reduction plan tool kit - Whole chain food waste reduction plan toolkit | WRAP 
•    WRAP Labelling guidance - Label better, less waste: Food date labelling guidance | WRAP


5CGF's 10 x 20 x 30

What is the Vision?

Massively increase private sector contribution to the global goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030 by catalyzing efforts “up” the supply chain.

What is it?

Initiative wherein at least 10 of the world’s largest food retailers and providers follow the “Target-Measure-Act” approach and each engages 20 of their priority suppliers to do the same - thereby halving their food loss and waste by 2030.

Why is it Important?

Scales of “Target-Measure-Act” from 10 to ~200 catalyses the “whole chain” approach, supporting upstream food loss with waste reduction involving 6 of the world’s 10 largest food retailers, the world’s 2nd largest food service provider, iconic restaurants and major regional players.

If you are not already, and would like to engage with the 10x20x30, respond via the survey. Sainsbury’s will facilitate an introduction and the CGF will provide training on approaching Food Waste Reduction in the Autumn. Signing up to the initiative will also provide access to a number of other materials to support your journey.

Useful Links

•    Introduction to Champion 10x20x30

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