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Change food waste policy, urge MPs

A national food waste target, more consistent household collections, more money for WRAP and a greater emphasis on the waste hierarchy have been called for by a group of specialist MPs.

The conclusions of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee came following a series of reports from other select committees before Parliament is prorogued ahead of the General Election.

The Environmental Audit Committee, for example, called on the Government to provide certainty to the UK chemicals industry over the future of chemicals regulation. 

The Efra report notes that food waste costs the average person in the UK £200 a year, and the MPs say a national food waste reduction target would help tackle the problem.

Efra also believes that all supermarkets should follow the lead of Tesco and Sainsbury’s which publicly report data on the amount of food they throw out.

Neil Parish

Neil Parish

Committee chair Neil Parish (pictured) said food waste was wrong on economic, social and environmental grounds.

“Economically, food waste costs households hundreds of pounds a year and causes increased disposal costs to local authorities, pushing up council tax bills.

”Socially, it is a scandal that people are going hungry and using food banks when so much produce is being wasted. And environmentally it is a disaster because energy and resources are wasted in production only for the food to end up rotting in landfills where it produces methane.”

His committee says a priority must be placed on awareness-raising work, even with lessons in school on food and food waste.

MPs are concerned that Defra’s funding for WRAP has been reduced in recent years, despite the charity’s “significant achievements” in driving UK-wide voluntary initiatives in waste reduction.

Efra’s report concludes that local authorities should remain responsible for collecting household food waste, but says guidance and best practice should be shared at a national level to move towards a standardised approach.

The MPs say that the incoming Government should consider a national strategy to ensure consistent collection of waste and recycling across the UK.

The committee called on ministers to work closely with WRAP and councils to ensure that separate food waste collections are offered as widely as possible, and councils should look at introducing separate food waste collection when new waste contracts are put in place.

The MPs also believe that food businesses and retailers over a particular size should be mandated to separate food waste.

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