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Food waste champion to help redistribute surplus to needy

food redistribution

Ben Elliot, the co-founder of luxury lifestyle company Quintessentially, is to advise the Government on a £15m fund to support charities redistributing food waste following his appointment as ‘food surplus and waste champion’.

Elliot was appointed by Defra in the wake of the resources and waste strategy. The department said the champion would “work with business leaders to ensure that this issue remains at the top of their agendas”.

His first objective will be to oversee a £15m fund to help divert commercial and retail food from being wasted to people judged in most need.

Elliot is also chair of the Quintessentially Foundation, which has worked with food redistribution charity the Felix Project.

As part of his role, which lasts for one year and is unpaid, he will work with business leaders to support the Coutauld Commitment 2025. 

The fund will be launched this year and will cover 2019 to 2020. Environment secretary Michael Gove recently told the Environmental Audit Committee it had not yet been finalised that that he was “open to all ideas” on how the scheme should work.

But he confirmed that it is intended for food distribution charities such as the Felix Project and FareShare, which would need to submit bids. He added: “At this stage we are looking at a particular partner which would then be responsible for giving the money to organisations that would bid for it.”

According to WRAP, around 205,000 tonnes of food could be redistributed rather than going to waste.

UK food waste totalled 10.2 million tonnes a year, of which 1.8 million comes from food manufacture, one million from the hospitality sector and 260,000 from retail, with the remainder from households.

Elliot said: “While families all over the country struggle to put food on the table and children still go to school each day with empty stomachs, there continues to be an unforgivable amount of food waste which is both morally deplorable and largely avoidable.

“As a nation, we need to stop this excessive waste and ensure that surplus food finds its way to people in our society who need it most, and not let it get thrown away and go to landfill. The progress that we have made at the Felix Project has had a positive impact on thousands of people’s lives in London, and I am extremely grateful to all of those involved in the food sector that have been so supportive.

“My new appointment will allow me to work with Defra and food retailers all over the country to help build out a nationwide strategy that will ensure surplus food is not wasted at the expense of those in our society who truly need it.”

In response to Elliot’s appointment, Eunomia chairman Dominic Hogg said: “The problem of food waste is an enormous one and so there is plenty for the new food waste champion to get his teeth into.

“It will be interesting to see whether, and if so how, the role of food waste champion links to the broader objective of trying to reduce the environmental impact of our food consumption – a cause that also deserves to be championed.”

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