Laying down the law on food waste

Exciting to report that Parliament has NOT completely ground to a halt in the fallout from the referendum vote. The Environment. Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) this week launched an inquiry into whether legislation is needed to further reduce food waste in the UK.

It comes in the same week that reports from the US suggest that the “cult of perfection” is seeing a terrifying half of all fresh produce going to waste.

WRAP and others have helped take some sizable bites out of the UK’s domestic food waste mountain in recent years, with their campaigns like Love Food Hate Waste. And the major retailers have, perhaps not before time, embarked on some significant, positive changes. The foodservice sector has also awoken to the environmental, social and economic case for addressing its food waste problem, with many businesses taking the hugely important steps of separating and measuring their waste. These two crucial steps have enabled them to make reductions too.

Legislators have already taken action, in Scotland and Wales, where restaurants must separate food waste and dispose of it responsibly. But, with food waste said to cost the UK economy a staggering £16bn a year, is there a need for further legislation or can voluntary initiatives and schemes alone help radically reduce that figure? That’s the questions Efra is asking.

Efra Chair Neil Parish says: “Despite the progress made reducing food waste along the supply chain, the amount of reusable, recyclable food that we throw away in the UK in still staggeringly high…We will be asking what more can be done to reduce food waste and this needless expense.”

Avoidable food waste has fallen 20% in the last ten years, but that progress appears to have slowed, if not stopped.

An interview with Liz Goodwin, who recently left her role as CEO of WRAP, would appear to contain some of the answers Efra are looking for. She says that a failure to teach young people how to cook and about food more generally, has created a generation that neither understand no really care about food.

She added that the case for doing nothing is simply not acceptable. “I do think there’s a moral case [to save food waste], because we have to think about food security, not just for the UK but internationally. If we stopped wasting as much food in the UK [as we do] we’d be able to feed the growing population in the UK without having to increase productivity or import more.”

We will be submitting ideas to the Efra inquiry and will share them with you. If you’d like to contribute to this important debate, you can submit your proposals for tackling this issue here, by 13 September.

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