An MP has expressed “shock” and “concern” at a minister’s refusal to reduce the food waste his department produces a year.
Kerry McCarthy, a Labour shadow minister, asked cabinet secretary Francis Maude, right, what steps his department was taking to reduce food waste.
The minister’s reply to her written question said, Maude said nine tonnes of food waste were produced annually. “It is not my objective to reduce the amount of food waste collected by my department as food waste can be reprocessed, avoiding the need for landfill.”
McCarthy told MRW: “I am concerned, and a little shocked, that the minister thinks that reprocessing food waste for industrial uses or for composting takes away the need to reduce or avoid it in the first place.”
“These options are not of equal value, on any assessment – from their environmental impact to the cost savings to be made from reducing food waste. Not to mention the ethics of throwing away food, when one in 16 people are currently having to skip meals so their family can eat. Even if the waste disposed of in less environmentally damaging ways than landfill, disposal is still not the ideal solution.”
McCarthy added: “Clearly more needs to be done to educate ministers and their departments on implementing the waste hierarchy. This gives top priority to preventing waste.”
The Government’s Waste Review identified food waste as a “priority waste stream”. It said the total annual food waste is around 16 million tonnes a year, costing £12bn. The review said: “The public sector will lead by example across its own estate, reducing the amount of food wasted.”
In March, McCarthy introduced a private members’ bill seeking to oblige supermarkets and manufacturers to donate surplus food for redistribution to people in food poverty.