Global demand for water is increasing putting pressure on freshwater supplies and ecosystems. Several areas of the UK are already water stressed, with concerns for water quality also an issue. Reliable and sufficient freshwater is important for the long-term sustainability of the food and drink industry; water is required for raw materials, processing needs and as an ingredient. 

Water is a key pillar of FDF's Ambition 2025. We aim to deliver continuous improvement in water use across the supply chain and to ensure sustainable water management and stewardship. We also aim to contribute to an industry-wide target to reduce water use by 20% by 2020 compared to 2007.

The FDF is working collaboratively across the supply chain on initiatives addressing quality and availability of water, as well as water efficiency, including the Courtauld 2025 Water Ambition and Water for Food Group.

The FDF is also working with stakeholders to influence future policy, notable in relation to water abstraction.

Updates & milestones

Environment Agency Water Resources Strategic Review of Charges: New Charging Scheme is live

Environmental sustainability

Following the Environment Agency’s Water Resources charge scheme consultation between August – November 2021, (EA summary response document available here; FDF response to the consultation available here), the new scheme is now live.

From 1 April 2022, new application and annual charges apply. The new Environment Agency (Environmental Permitting Regulations and Abstraction Licencing) (England) Charging Scheme 2022 and the supporting Water resources charging guidance are available on GOV.UK.

Due to ongoing work to move licences into the new charging scheme, customers will receive their annual bill later than usual. The Environment Agency anticipate that bills will come out in Summer 2022. In the meantime, customers can use their online Water Resources charge indicator tool to calculate charges.  Members can contact the Environment Agency directly with any questions via

WRAP launches Roadmap towards Water Security for the Food & Drink Supply

On 24 November, WRAP, in partnership with WWF, The Rivers Trust and many other supporting organisations, launched the Roadmap towards Water Security for the Food & Drink Supply to protect vital water resources for the benefit of nature, local communities and the food and drink sector.

The Water Roadmap will be delivered by a coalition of water stewardship expert bodies, on-the-ground delivery agencies and UK food and drink organisations. The Water Roadmap builds on the success of the Courtauld Commitment Water Ambition to deliver even more ambitious changes across the food system in support of the new Courtauld Commitment 2030  target and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The new Water Roadmap directly addresses the climate risk and food security issues surrounding water stewardship whilst highlighting the need for urgent adaptation and action.

It includes:

  • The actions organisations need to take individually and collectively, to help deliver this vision - progressing through the five stages of the WWF water stewardship ladder.
  • The milestones that we need UK food and drink businesses to reach along this shared journey
  • The delivery and governance framework - including the steps to develop and deliver water stewardship projects.
  • The reporting framework– ensuring accountability, providing assurance that the right level of progress is being made and that intended outcomes are being achieved.

A total of 65 supporters, including 50 leading food & drink organisations such as Asda, Co-op, Coca Cola GB, M&S, Nestle UK & Ireland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, are already supporting the Water Roadmap, and WRAP is calling for more to join this growing movement of companies, who are committed to taking action on water.  

Defra publish consultation on ‘Changes to the regulatory framework for abstraction and impounding licensing in England: Moving into the Environmental Permitting Regulations regime

On 29 September, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched their consultation on moving abstraction and impounding licensing in England into the Environmental Permitting Regulations regime. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and close on 22 December.

The aims of integrating the regulation of abstraction and impounding licensing into the Environmental Permitting Regulations are:

  • A streamlined regulatory landscape
  • Proportionate, risk-based regulation
  • Dynamic water management
  • Permit consolidation across environmental regimes
  • A future digital service where customers can manage all their Environmental Permitting Regulations permits in one place

This change was originally proposed in the Water Abstraction Plan 2017 as part of governments ambition to modernise abstraction and impounding management and streamline the environmental regulatory framework; it will take effect in 2023.

WRAP launch Courtauld Commitment 2030 with renewed targets

Today WRAP have announced that they have extended their Courtauld commitment to 2030, with renewed targets on food waste, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water.

  1. On food waste, to deliver against UN SDG 12.3: a 50% per capita reduction in food waste by 2030 vs the UK 2007 baseline (covering manufacture, retail, hospitality and food service, and household)
  2. On GHG emissions, to deliver a 50% absolute reduction in GHG emissions associated with food and drink consumed in the UK by 2030 (against a 2015 baseline)
  3. On water, for businesses to increase water use efficiency in their own operations and contribute to achieving sustainable water management to improve the quality and availability of water at catchment scale with an overall target that by 2030 50% of fresh food is sources from areas with sustainable water management

You can find a summary of progress to date in the Courtauld Commitment Annual Report.

At the same time, and to enable smaller businesses to engage with Courtauld Commitment 2030, WRAP has introduced an Associate Membership model.

Date for return of the Environment Bill confirmed

It has been confirmed that the Environment Bill will return to Parliament on 26 May to finish Commons Report stages, before proceeding to the Lords.


The Food and Drink Federation publishes Ambition 2025 Progress and Mid-Term Review reports

Food and drink companies beat CO2 reduction targets five years early, leading to new sustainability commitments in far reaching report.

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