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Stewart describes positive ‘tension’ of food waste proposal

A Labour shadow minister has praised a “receptive response” from the Conservative resource minister Rory Stewart to proposed legislation to tackle food waste.

Kerry McCarthy has introduced her 10-minute rule Food Waste (Reduction) bill, which proposes that large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors should reduce their food waste by 30% by 2025 and enter into formal agreements with charities. It calls for these companies to disclose levels of food waste in their supply chain.

A second reading of the bill, which also seeks incentives and further encouragement for companies implementing the food waste reduction hierarchy, has been scheduled for 29 January.

Stewart spoke at a Westminster event to launch McCarthy’s bid and described the Labour MP as an “extraordinary champion” of the issue but he said he needed to look “very carefully” at the bill.

Resources minister Rory Stewart described the “very creative, useful tension” of proposed legislation and said: “I expect there will be discussions about how much of this is mandatory and how much is voluntary. One of reasons we have been able to make such progress over the last ten years has partly been the threat of legislative action.”

He added that the Government expected to make a 3% improvement this year in reducing food waste.

McCarthy said she thought the minister had been “very receptive” to the arguments she had put forward at a debate in Parliament before the summer recess. She added that his civil servants “might not have been so pleased that he was paying attention”.

The MP originally introduced a similar bill in 2012, also proposing obligations on businesses to send waste to charity.

The Government refused to back the original proposal, with the then cabinet secretary Francis Maude saying it was not his objective to reduce the amount of food waste collected as it could be reprocessed.

McCarthy also said at the launch she was setting up an All Party Parliamentary Group on food waste.

Green party MP Caroline Lucas, Fareshare chief executive Lindsay Boswell and Feedback managing director Nikki Charalampopoulou also spoke at the launch. Refreshments were provided by the Real Junk Food project.

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