WRAP’s 5-5-5 approach to maximising waste reduction

Use WRAP’s experience of working with businesses to help your company target its efforts to maximise waste and cost reduction.  Explore our 5-5-5 approach to see the detailed guidance and tools available to help you every step of the way.

5 key actions to take

WRAP’s experience has shown the following are essential actions to take to reduce food, drink and packaging waste in your company.

  1. Measure the waste  - companies often don’t have a real understanding of how much waste they are actually producing
  2. Cost it properly! - Cost calculations used by companies rarely provide the true cost of the waste - WRAP recommends a true cost of waste calculation formula and has tools to help
  3. Set a target for waste reduction  - challenge ‘tolerance’ levels!  Ensure Key Performance Indicators encourage the correct behaviour.
  4. Take action on the highest waste areas – follow our recommended
    5 stages to target waste in your business
  5. Embed a culture of waste prevention - senior management need to lead the charge, are they convinced about the business case? Engage employees on waste reduction using our fun employee engagement campaign - Your Workplace Without Waste.

5 key areas to target

WRAP has found the biggest waste reductions can be achieved through targeting five key areas of your business.   

1.  Improve systems and processes  - forecasting, ordering, product life, and promotions are areas where small tweaks can make big gains.

2. Implement Lean/Continuous Improvement (CI) type processes – WRAP has two tools to help you through this process, both based on Lean and CI techniques:

    • The W.A.S.T.E. process, shown in the diagram above, uses a straightforward problem-solving approach to use within your own company or in collaboration with a customer or supplier
    • The Whole Chain Resource Efficiency Toolkit takes the W.A.S.T.E. approach wider to a farm-to-fork approach so that waste can be driven out at all stages of the supply chain.  The tool gives guidance on how to bring supply chain partners together to achieve this.

3. Collaborate- the biggest gains are made when companies collaborate with customers and their supply chain.  Hear what leading industry figures said about this at WRAP’s ‘Sustainable Food - Collaboration in Action’ event.

Working together, Waitrose and its supplier Wingland Foods identified that the waste level of bagged salads in convenience stores was significantly higher than in other stores.  By carrying out a trial of smaller packages of certain types of bagged salads in several convenience stores it was found that waste could be reduced by at least a third and in some instances by as much as 80%.

“Working in partnership proved an effective way of identifying problems and introducing solutions that can reduce wastes that impact on both our businesses.” 
Alan Williams, Supply Chain Development Manager, Waitrose.

4. Optimise secondary packaging to reduce waste - there’s been lots of progress on primary packaging but there are still big opportunities to cut down on secondary and tertiary packaging.

5. Redistribute - surplus food should be sold or sent to charity; if this is not possible, check if any food can be sent for animal feed.

5 stages to follow 

Once you have measured and properly costed your waste, follow the five key stages below to reduce waste and cost in the highest waste area, and then start on the next highest area.


Using WRAP’s W.A.S.T.E. approach, dairy company Arla formed an intervention team at its Stourton creamery to identify and implement remedial actions to reduce waste. The resulting interventions aim to prevent 2,600 tonnes of waste a year.  The whole site is engaged in this new way of thinking and several workshops have been held to train staff and to inform them about approaches and progress. Read the case study.

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