Reduce waste by improving systems and processes

Reducing waste by improving systems and processes is one of five key areas that offer the biggest opportunities for waste reduction in food and drink manufacturing and retailing.  These five areas are:

  1. Improve systems and processes
  2. Implement Lean/Continuous Improvement type processes
  3. Collaborate
  4. Optimise secondary and tertiary packaging
  5. Redistribute

Changes to systems and processes can significantly reduce waste and cost. This can include changes to on-site practices, production processes, buying, product packaging, products, and supply chain and transport activities. Collaboration with customers and suppliers is essential as systems and decisions made in one part of the supply chain can lead to waste in others.

Effective Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Ensure SOPs are in place that minimise waste production for all key processes.  Where these are in place, how well are they being followed by staff?  Is more training needed regarding the importance of preventing waste or would personal objectives ensure this happens?

Improve product life

Small increases in product life, without compromising safety or quality, passed on in full to the consumer, can help prevent household waste. Retailers and manufacturers can also benefit from these changes because on-shelf availability can increase and waste reduces.  Further guidance will be available soon.

Optimise information flow

Optimise your speed of reaction in meeting your customers’ demands and reducing wastage.  Review end to end performance of replenishment systems including inventory management, handling and forecasting.  Consider how availability and delivery schedule targets can be improved through better alignment of demand and production.

Faster and Fresher

ASDA is delivering fresher products to its customers by implementing efficiencies to its delivery and store systems. Working with its supply chain, ASDA was able to increase the shelf life over 1,500 chilled products by an extra day, while maintaining a low price offer.


Waste prevention should be a key aim in promotional planning, management and evaluation.  The impact of a promotion on waste should be routinely evaluated across all types of promotion and ways of preventing waste built in to the execution of all promotions.   Further guidance will be available soon.


Buying mechanisms provide an opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to increase efficiency – reducing waste, costs and risk in the supply chain – while increasing resilience and helping to deliver corporate commitments for sustainability.  Further guidance will be available soon.

Challenge Quality Assurance regimes

Monitor whether staff are following quality checking procedures correctly and are not throwing out perfectly good product.

See also: