The Government is asking food retailers and hospitality businesses to “step up to the plate” to significantly cut food waste.

The big ask comes from the Government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot ahead of a major food waste symposium, where attendees from over 300 food-related businesses will be expected to become Food Value Champions and sign a pledge supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goal to reduce food loss and waste.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has signed up to the pledge, describing food waste as a “moral, economic, and environmental scandal”.

“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,” he added.

Currently around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year. A further 100,000 tonnes of food — equating to 250 million meals a year — is edible and readily available but is currently sent for animal feed, anaerobic digestion or used to generate energy.

Ben Elliot, who set up the symposium and produced the food waste pledge said more businesses and individuals to “Step up to the Plate”.

“Wasting food is an environmental, moral and financial scandal. We intend for the symposium and pledge to spark action, not just conversation, and inspire us all to champion change.”

Earlier this year, the Government launched a £15 million scheme to tackle food waste, building on its landmark  Resources and Waste Strategy  which sets out how it will introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses.

So far, more than £4 million has been awarded to four redistribution organisations across England to help overcome barriers to getting food currently going to waste onto people’s plates. A further round of funding will focus on improving infrastructure for companies to expand and redistribute more food waste.

If the scheme fails to generate enough support and progress remains slow, the Government says it will consider introducing legal powers to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention.

Full details of the symposium and the “Step up to the Plate” food waste pledge are available here.

Information about the £15 million food waste funding programme is accessible here.

Last reviewed 13 May 2019