Food waste policy would be as accepted as seatbelts

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Regulation banning food waste in the UK would be as accepted as those requiring people to wear seatbelts
Regulation banning food waste in the UK would be as accepted as those requiring people to wear seatbelts

Related tags Food waste Government Anaerobic digestion

Legislation banning food businesses from throwing away fit-for-purpose surplus food would be as accepted as policy surrounding seatbelts, according to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Food businesses should be hit with similar legislation to the one recently adopted in France that banned the throwing away or discarding of food, the grant-making foundation’s ceo Caroline Mason CBE told FareShare’s Surplus food summit last week (June 17).

She said the move had been a huge step forward in tackling waste and poverty and the UK government should bring in similar measures.

“To think of this as a nanny state move is nonsense,” ​she said.

Same as seatbelts or smoking

“This type of legislation would be seen in the future in the same way as we see seatbelts or the smoking ​[ban] in public and we will wonder why on earth it took us so long to do something about it.”

Baroness Scott of Needham Market, who chaired the House of Lords EU sub-committee on food waste, said it was “mad”​ there was more of a fiscal incentive for firms to give food to anaerobic digestion than to people.

There are fiscal tools available – ranging from value-added tax to tax deduction and tax breaks – that the government should look into offering to businesses, she claimed.

There also needed to be clarity over EU rules on food safety and hygiene surrounding food waste to prevent businesses hiding behind them, she added.

It was “staggering”​ the UK doesn’t have a public policy on food waste in place, she claimed.

Food waste facts

89M tonnes of food is wasted in Europe each year

180kg of food is through away by each person across the EU


“When​ [food waste is] combined with health issues, that begins to awaken the senses and maybe there is a role for government and policy making in food more broadly – that would be helpful.”

Voluntary approach more effective

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said voluntary agreements could be as effective as legislation.

It was much better for food businesses to voluntarily realise the benefits of food waste reduction than being coerced into policy, the FDF’s environment policy manager, David Bellamy, told

“We have successfully as FDF – voluntarily through our five-fold ambition – addressed the issue of landfill of both food and packaging waste,”​ he said.

“Overall we are down to 3% of waste to landfill and for food waste alone we’re at pretty much zero.

“On a voluntary basis, you could argue that we’ve already achieved what the French legislation is seeking to achieve​.

This voluntary approach is supported by the British Retail Consortium, he added.

Watch our video to find out why FareShare said the UK was lagging behind France on food redistribution. 

Meanwhile, electrical retailer launched an interactive online journey​ in an attempt to battle food waste,

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