Retailers need to take more responsibility for food waste generated by households and scrap multi-buy deals, according to the Local Government Association.
It has calculated that the cost of buying and throwing away good food and drink reached £13.7 billion last year. The analysis, which combined the purchasing price of food which wasn’t eaten with the cost to council tax-payers of sending it to landfill, revealed households paid an estimated £520 each for uneaten food over the past year.
LGA Environment Board Vice Chairman Cllr Clyde Loakes said: “While campaigns like Love Food, Hate Waste are encouraging people to make better use of the food they buy, the source of the problem is not being adequately addressed. With more than five million tonnes of edible food thrown out each year, way too much food is being brought into homes in the first place. Retailers need to take a large slice of responsibility for that.
“Buy one get one free deals, which give consumers a few days to munch through 16 clementines, are not about providing value for money. They are about transferring waste out of retail operations and into the family home. Retailers should scrap multi-buy deals which encourage people to take more than they need and replace them with discounts on individual products which will help reduce excess consumption and increase customer choice.”
But retailers defended the use of food promotion deals. British Retail Consortium head of environment Bob Gordon said: “There’s a simple solution to the problem of food waste going to landfill – local councils need to collect it separately so it can be turned into compost or helped to biodegrade.
“With people’s disposable income shrinking, supermarket special offers are more valued than ever. Forty per cent of groceries going through the tills are currently on promotion or special offer - that’s a record high. The traditional Buy One Get One Free has moved with the times – people can often choose their free item from a range of goods, and some stores do Buy One Get One Free Later.
“Let’s give shoppers the credit they deserve. Customers are smart and they know how to make the most of the deals which work for them. There’s no evidence that the food ending up in landfill is a result of promotions.”