The global food system has delivered major human development benefits in recent decades. Food processing technology and packaging solutions, such as those that Tetra Pak has been proud to develop, have helped to protect, improve and deliver food and nutrition across the world, safely and securely.

And yet, the global food system accounts for over one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Approximately a third of all food produced is lost or wasted, accounting for 8% of global GHG emissions.

The current way food is sourced, processed, packaged, and disposed of, needs to change if the UK, and the world, is to meet its net zero ambitions, meaningfully address climate change, and ultimately achieve greater food security.

This report, and the discussions and research that have informed it, are an attempt to play our role in galvanising action to drive change to decarbonise the UK’s food system.


  1. The Government should explore how green public procurement can be used to encourage access to capital/R&D investments and public/private partnerships to facilitate placing on the market technologies which foster the uptake of healthier and more sustainable foods.

  2. The Government should take a more leading role on driving meaningful engagement with suppliers, and processors, distributors and supermarkets to develop more sustainable sourcing, production and distribution methods for food. Such collaboration should prioritise innovation within processing and packaging to ensure that consumers are able to access high quality, safe food with a reduced carbon impact.

  3. Healthy school meal provision should include requirements around the sustainability and environmental impact of the food being offered, alongside information about healthy and sustainable diets for children.

  4. The Department for Education should develop specific guidance for teachers on how the food system’s role in mitigating climate change is taught within the school curriculum in secondary schools. This would equip children with the understanding and knowledge to make informed decisions around food and drink.

  5. The Government should work with industry to develop consumer awareness campaigns outlining the impact of food waste, and the food choices we make, on the planet, providing examples of where small dietary or behaviour changes or substitutions can help the UK meet its climate goals.

  6. The Government should introduce targets for reducing food waste and loss within the food and drink sector, to drive greater action and supplement current proposals for mandatory food waste reporting from 2024.

  7. Policymakers should engage with the food and drink sector to develop clear metrics that provide transparency for consumers on the carbon footprint of products (across value chains) to enable more informed and sustainable consumer choices.

  8. Using R&D financing, the Government should foster the development of technologies which help to combat food waste/loss prevention, including the upcycling of side-streams of the food manufacturing process, which too often are viewed, unnecessarily, as waste.

  9. The Government should continue to create defined regulation around food and drink packaging recycling, which encourages & promotes the use of circular materials as foundational within packaging regulations. This should include specific recycling targets for all packaging materials.

  10. The Government should use policy and regulation which encourages the deployment of sustainably sourced, low carbon plant-based materials in packaging. This includes removing plant-based polymers from the scope of the Plastic Packaging Tax, to incentivise their adoption by packaging manufacturers and producers.

  11. The Government must continue to design and implement recycling policies that ensure that adequate infrastructure for separate collection of used packaging is put in place. This includes the proposed Deposit Return Scheme, which should include as wide a range of materials as possible, including cartons packages.