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Government to focus on reducing food waste

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Source: Materials Recycling Week

Reducing, re-using and reprocessing food waste to divert from landfill is a key goal in the Government’s 20-year food strategy – Food 2030.

The Government wants food waste to be “avoided as far as possible” and to ensure that supply chains are efficient and minimise waste. It also wants consumers to be more food and waste-conscious and plan to store and use food effectively. The use of surplus food used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion is also mentioned in the strategy.

Food 2030 also sets out the challenges facing Britain in maintaining a secure food supply at a time of rapid population growth and climate change.

Launching the campaign at the Oxford Farming Conference (5 January) Environment Secretary
Hilary Benn said: “Food security is as important to this country’s future wellbeing and the world’s as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably. And we need to make sure that what we eat safeguards our health.

“We know that the consequences of the way we produce and consume our food are unsustainable to our planet and to ourselves. There are challenges for everyone involved in the food system, from production right through to managing food waste.”

Food waste in the UK is estimated to be 18-20 million tonnes. Although household food waste makes the largest contribution (8.3 million tonnes) more than half of this is food wasted in the supply chain.

The strategy outlines how the Waste & Resources Action Programme is providing £3.5m in grant funding for local authorities seeking to introduce new food waste collection schemes.

WRAP is also working with retailers to help consumers make the best use of offers, for example recipe suggestions. The strategy also states that composting and wormeries can produce good quality compost.

Container supplier Straight chief executive Jonathan Straight said he was encouraged by the Government’s plans to reduce food waste. But said that £3.5m  of funding for local authorities “was no great deal” and the cash needed to be “bumped up” if the Government was serious about tackling food waste.

He added that the strategy missed the opportunity to focus on home composting and that much of household food waste can be composted at home and not collected. He said: “If you adhere to the waste hierarchy then home composting has to be ahead of collection.”

Food 2030 also sets out how food manufacturers and retailers can help consumers to reduce waste by providing more information about meal planning, storing food, judging portion sizes more accurately, and better understanding of date labelling. It states that development of new technologies may also give food longer shelf life and make it easier to store safely, such as re-sealable packaging.

Food and Drink Federation director general Melanie Leech said the FDF welcomed the Government’s strategy.

She said: “Our sector is already leading the way on many issues highlighted in Food 2030. For example, our members are working under FDF’s five-fold environmental ambition to make a real difference to the environment on issues such as water efficiency, waste reduction and reducing carbon emissions.”

Government to focus on reducing food waste

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