The government has announced a new scheme to reduce the amount of food waste generated in the UK, which is being supported by £15m of additional funding.
Set to launch in 2019/20, the scheme will specifically address the issue of surplus food from retail and food manufacturing, as food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacturing, 1 million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retail.
Around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year, and it is estimated a further 100,000 tonnes of food – equating to 250 million meals a year – is edible and readily available but goes uneaten.
Defra is also commissioning work to improve the evidence base around food waste, in order to get an understanding of why more surplus food is not being redistributed. According to the group this work will “inform the design of the scheme”, ensuring it drives down food waste in the most “effective possible way”.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. It harms our environment, it’s bad for business – and it’s morally indefensible. Every year, around 100,000 tonnes of readily available and perfectly edible food is never eaten. This has got to change.
“In the coming months we will work closely with business, charities and volunteers to deliver a new scheme to tackle this problem.”
Commenting on the scheme, a spokesperson from food waste charity, Fareshare, told Retail Sector: “We congratulate Michael Gove for responding to our call to use surplus food for social good. £15m can create almost 250 million meals worth of food for those in need, preventing in date food from being wasted.
“We see this fund as principally for food producers and not the supermarkets. The big supermarkets have already invested in charitable redistribution from their stores and this is about supporting their suppliers to do the same.”