The major UK supermarkets and food companies have adopted a rafts of new voluntary targets designed to reduce the carbon footprint of packaging.

The goals have been adopted by 28 major retailers and food brands as part of the second phase of the Courtauld Commitment, managed by Waste & Resources Action Programme, which was originally launched in 2005 with a view to halting the growth in packaging waste and reducing the amount of food waste produced each year.

Asda, The Co-operative, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are among those to have adopted voluntary targets.

Companies will have to reduce the carbon footprint of grocery packaging by 10 per cent on 2009 levels by 2012 through cuts in packaging weight, increased recycling rates and the use of more sustainable materials, under the new targets.

Cutting household food and drink waste by four per cent by 2012 and reducing packaging waste in the grocery supply chain by five per cent are also goals under phase two.

Hilary Benn, DEFRA secretary of state, welcomed the sector's support for the new targets, and urged more firms to “take action and halt the increase in packaging”.