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Defra pushes forward with food waste voluntary pledges

Food waste champion Ben Elliot and environment secretary Michael Gove are to launch a voluntary pledge campaign to help prevent food waste, as Defra awards £4m to four food distribution projects.

Ahead of the ‘Step up to the Plate’ initiatve launch on 13 May, Elliot called on at least 300 influential individuals and organisations to pledge their support to cut food waste.

While 43,000 tonnes a year of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers, at least 100,000 tonnes of edible food goes uneaten.

Hosted by Elliot and Gove, the event will take place at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which will also shortly open its FOOD; Bigger than the Plate exhibition.

Elliot said: “Wasting food is an environmental, moral and financial scandal. We intend for the symposium and pledge to spark action, not just conversation, and inspire us all to champion change.”

Gove added: “The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but I urge businesses to join me in signing the pledge so we can bring about real change.”

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said: “With climate change firmly in the political and social spotlight, it is worth reminding ourselves that unless we fix the world’s food system we will not be able to bring about the reduction in global warming we need to halt the damage to our planet.

“So we are delighted to pledge WRAP’s support to Elliot’s bold rallying call to ‘Step up to the Plate’. We need to wake up to the amount of food we waste as a nation and take action in our daily lives to stop throwing perfectly good food away.”

Backing for the initiative has also come from the food industry, with Susan Barratt, chief executive of the Institute of Grocery Distribution, saying the time ”is right for change”.

“Some 90 food businesses across the UK have committed to reduce food waste and share their data through the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, developed by WRAP and IGD, but there is more to be done.

“Our research highlights shopper concern, with 40% seeing the environmental impacts of their food purchases as being either very important or extremely important.”

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief scientific officer Helen Munday said: “We actively encourage our members and the food and drink manufacturing industry as a whole to take advantage of the range of helpful tools available to do so.

“These include the ‘Target, Measure and Act’ approach set out in the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, of which we are a signatory.

“Food waste is an important issue to FDF members and, by working across the value chain, we can make a real change happen on this important social and environmental issue.”

Defra announced the first wave of funding through a £15m food redistribution scheme launched in January. Fareshare, Company Shop Group, The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield will receive a total of £4m between them. 

Nearly £2m went to the Company Shop Group for a project to redistribute the “harder to reach surplus from higher up the supply chain”. 

Managing director Jane Marren said: ”This funding represents a significant step forward by the Government in recognising the importance of investing in a range of surplus redistribution options to reduce food waste. There is no one size fits all approach to the food waste challenge.

“The grant will bolster our half century of experience, technical infrastructure and capabilities, trusted industry partnerships, and sustainable business model. Through this project, we will now be redistributing even more surplus food to reach people in need, with the impact and legacy of our project being felt way beyond the lifetime of the fund.”

’Step up to the Plate’ pledge includes:

  • Setting a target to halve food waste by 2030 in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3
  • Adopting the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to have half of all 250 of the of the UK’s largest food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019
  • Embracing a ’Food Conversation’ week of action in November 2019 to highlight the changes we can all make
  • Using their voice and profile to empower and encourage citizens, including the younger generation
  • Changing their habits as an individual to be Food Value Champion at work and at home, buying only what is needed and eating what is bought

 

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