Food: Waste

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd July 2015.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how her Department plans to reduce the disposal level of edible food in the UK.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In accordance with the waste hierarchy, voluntary agreements with business and the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP’s) Love Food Hate Waste campaign encourage action by households, food manufacturers, retailers and the hospitality and food service sectors to prevent food waste in the first place.

If surplus food cannot be prevented, the next best option is to ensure it is redistributed for human consumption. The Courtauld Commitment 3 supply chain target includes action on both prevention and redistribution. This dual target approach encourages redistribution as the most desirable route for any surplus food suitable for human consumption.

Defra convened a Ministerial round table in July 2012 and requested WRAP to lead an industry working group to follow up on recommendations. As a key output of the group, WRAP published research, guiding principles and good practice case studies to help industry take action.

Building further on this work, Defra convened a round table meeting in January this year with representatives from food retailers, manufacturers, trade associations and the food redistribution sector to discuss how more surplus food can be put to good use. Progress has been good, with an increase of 80% in the food redistributed under Courtauld between 2012 and 2013. To continue this momentum a Courtauld working group has been set up and tasked with looking at further ways to increase the redistribution of surplus food. Further research will look at where and why waste and surpluses occur in the supply chain, which should provide further opportunities to identify and redistribute surplus food.

Since there will always be some unavoidable food waste, the Government’s Anaerobic Digestion Strategy is in place to reduce the amount of organic material going to landfill and drive the waste that is produced into energy recovery or recycling.

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