Industry urged to ‘step up to the plate’ on food waste

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags: Food waste, Michael Gove, Uk government

The UK government is calling on nearly 300 supermarkets, food suppliers, chefs and social media influencers to pledge to significantly cut food waste.

The government’s food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot is hosting a symposium on food waste, called ‘Step up to the Plate’, at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on 13 May, which aims to “promote awareness of food waste and help drive it down from all sources.”

Those attending the event will be asked to sign up to a number of commitments on measuring and reducing their own food waste and inspiring others to follow their lead.

They include commitments to set targets to halve food waste by 2030 in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and to adopt the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap​ to have half of all 250 of the of the UK’s largest food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019.

Attendees will also be encouraged to take individual steps such as ‘buying only what I need and eating what I buy’.

Food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year, according to the government, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacture, 1 million from the hospitality sector, and 260,000 from retail, with the remainder - the vast majority - from households.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but I urge businesses to join me in signing the pledge so we can bring about real change.

“Every year, around 100,000 tonnes of readily available and perfectly edible food goes uneaten. It’s time to join together and ‘Step up to the Plate’ to stop good food going to waste.

“Together, we must end the moral, economic, and environmental scandal of food waste.”

Earlier this year the government launched a £15 million scheme​ to tackle food waste, building on its Resources and Waste Strategy​ which sets out plans to introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses. The first round of successful applicants will be announced shortly. 

The pledge asks attendees to reduce food waste by:

  • setting an ambitious target to halve food waste by 2030 in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3
  • adopting the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap​ to have half of all 250 of the of the UK’s largest food businesses measuring, reporting and acting on food waste by 2019
  • embracing a Food Conversation week of action in November 2019 to highlight the changes we can all make
  • using their voice and profile to empower and encourage citizens, including the younger generation
  • changing their habits as an individual to be Food Value Champion at work and at home, buying only what they need and eating what they buy

Helen Munday, Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation said: “We actively encourage our members and the food and drink manufacturing industry as a whole to take advantage of the range of helpful tools available to do so. These include the ‘Target, Measure and Act’ approach set out in the UK Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, of which we are a signatory.

“Food Waste is an important issue to FDF members and by working across the value chain, we can make a real change happen on this important social and environmental issue.”

Here are the commitments asked from organisations attending the ‘Step up to the Plate’ symposium:

As an Organisation:

Commitment 1: Target Measure Act

My organisation will set an ambitious food waste reduction target, report on progress and prioritise action. We will support collaboration with our partners, playing our part in helping the UK deliver UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target2, helping to reduce our impact on climate change. As a food business, my organisation will adopt the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap​.

As an Organisation:

Commitment 1: Target Measure Act

  • My food business will set a food waste reduction target for our own UK operations, measure in a consistent way and share what we have learnt, and take action to reduce our own food waste, adopting the WRAP and IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap​.
  • If I am a Hospitality and Food Service business I will amplify WRAP’s Guardians of Grub campaign, and embed the campaign into my organisation’s plans.
  • As a non-food business I will set an internal food waste target and take action.

For tips and tools see the Love Food Hate Waste website​.

Commitment 2: Collaborate on tackling citizen food waste

  • My organisation will work with WRAP to share data from existing interventions and/or pilot new Behaviour Change Interventions.
  • My organisation will tie in new and existing announcements and activities into the Food Conversation week in November, to raise the profile of food waste prevention and accelerate serious action.
  • My organisation will tailor WRAP/partner developed consumer messaging to resonate with our customers and underpin our own activities during the Food Conversation week, creating a consistent narrative for citizens.
  • My marketing team will work closely with WRAP in order to develop activity to provide ongoing support to Love Food Hate Waste and for the Food Conversation week.

Here are the commitments asked of individuals:

  • I will buy only what I need: checking my fridge before I go shopping, using a shopping list and planning my meals.
  • I will eat what I buy: storing my food correctly, freezing what I cannot eat and checking my fridge is set at 0 – 5C.
  • I will strive to achieve the behaviour I want to see in others.

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