Food: Waste

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 25th November 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to make it cheaper and easier for food businesses to donate surplus food to charities rather than dispose of it via anaerobic digestion.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)

We have taken action to ensure that more surplus food is redistributed to people before being put to any other use through our voluntary agreements with the grocery and hospitality sectors. If surplus food cannot be prevented, the next best option is to ensure it is redistributed for human consumption. Signatories to the Courtauld Commitment, which includes UK retailers and food manufacturers, have reported a 74% increase in food redistribution between 2012 and the end of 2014 and we expect it to increase further.

In January this year the Secretary of State for Defra and the Minister for Civil Society brought together key players from retail, food manufacturing and redistribution organisations to agree new actions to further increase levels of food redistributed. A working group is driving this forward to waste less and redistribute more. The Group is developing a partnership model to provide a consistent framework for providers and recipients of surplus food to reach agreement on working together. Research has also been commissioned from the Waste and Resources Action Programme, which will identify where and why waste and surpluses occur in the food chain to identify what action can be taken to increase waste prevention and redistribution.

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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