Voluntary agreements work on path to net zero – but there is still a mountain to climb


The climate action NGO WRAP has today published the annual updates of its voluntary agreements for the food, plastics and textiles sectors.

The publication comes with a stark warning that – while the UK is making some progress in tackling key environmental issues – a lot more collaboration and action is needed from businesses to achieve the level of change required, and to keep climate goals within reach.

WRAP launched its first voluntary agreement in 2005 and has since expanded its programme to address food and drink, plastic pollution, and fashion and textiles. We have demonstrated how the voluntary approach can deliver measurable outcomes, with the Courtauld Commitment reducing the UK’s food waste by 27 per cent since its launch 17 years ago.

In the last three years of reporting, the UK Plastics Pact has doubled the recycled content in packaging and driven the significant elimination of unnecessary (84%) and hard to recycle (90%) components in packaging.

Launched only a year ago, Textiles 2030 has convened more than 110 leading businesses and organisations and brought the UK one step closer to accurately measuring and addressing the impact of the UK’s clothing and home textiles.

Together, WRAP’s annual reports highlight the challenges and pathways for tackling climate action, and detail where leading UK businesses are already acting to address waste, carbon and water usage through The UK Plastics Pact, the Courtauld Commitment 2030 and Textiles 2030.

Our voluntary agreements bring together governments, businesses, local authorities, academics, NGOs, industry groups and citizens to take collaborative action.

They address how the food and drink, plastics and textiles we use are produced and sold through to their reuse, re-manufacture and recycling.

The voluntary model operates in tandem with policy development, but can deliver impact faster, and with more flexibility, than regulation alone.

Using a systemic approach, businesses address these issues through innovation and collaboration, while generating opportunities for responsible growth and demonstrating to their customers and shareholders commitment to sustainable change.

A Target-Measure-Act approach, which we developed, makes sure there is rigorous evaluation of progress, giving transparent and publicly reported updates against targets to avoid greenwashing. 

But with signs that we are not on track to deliver the scale and pace of change needed to deliver on the goals of the voluntary agreements, and therefore to reduce emissions as required, we are using these annual updates to call on more businesses to act on climate change – today.

COP27 made it clear that we are not on track to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Accelerating action by businesses is paramount. The businesses signed up to our agreements are leading the way in transforming the food, textiles and plastic packaging sectors, demonstrating what is possible, and helping inform government’s thinking on needed regulatory levers.

Today’s reports show the mountain we need to climb, and we call on all businesses to join us on this journey and be part of changing our consumption systems in line with a sustainable future.


Since 2018, the UK Plastics Pact has changed how the UK makes, uses and disposes of plastics.

The Pact is making good progress removing problematic plastics and increasing recycled content, but recycling of plastic bags and wrapping continues to be a major barrier and WRAP warns that urgent action is needed to reduce unnecessary plastics, and to make sure the rest is recyclable and recycled.

Businesses that have been members of the Pact since its inception have higher levels of recycled content, with members also using less plastic than the national average.


With the food system responsible for 37 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, enormous stresses on fresh water supplies and the primary driver of biodiversity loss, transforming our food system is critical to fighting climate change.

Many businesses are working together through Courtauld 2030 to transform the food system, but the need for accelerated action has never been more urgent – not least around household food waste – and it is critical that the whole sector unites behind Courtauld 2030 and joins those leading the vanguard.


Under Textiles 2030,, our newest voluntary agreement launched in April 2021, signatories are adopting a Target, Measure, Act approach to ambitious carbon and water reduction targets and working collaboratively across their supply chains to implement improvements in line with the Textiles 2030 Circularity Roadmap.

Today, for the first time, we are publishing the Textiles 2030 baseline – detailing signatories’ combined carbon and water footprints for 2019.

The report also shows results from the signatories’ first year of reporting in 2021, which will help determine priority areas for action and track progress over the next eight years.

The data gives the clearest picture of the current situation in the UK fashion and textiles industry, and the scale of the challenge. To read the full progress reports, click here.

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