Government launches new food waste scheme

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The Government has launched a £15m scheme to tackle food waste
The Government has launched a £15m scheme to tackle food waste
A new £15m scheme to help tackle food waste in the UK has been unveiled by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Designed to specifically address surplus food from manufacturing and retail, the scheme is the first part of DEFRA’s Resources and Waste Strategy, due to be published later this year.

The pilot scheme will be developed over the coming months in collaboration with businesses and charities and is set to launch in 2019/20.

David Moon, head of business collaboration at waste charity WRAP, said the announcement was a great boost for the support networks around the country working to ensure good food was used to feed people and was not wasted.

Surplus food redistribution

“Between 2015 and 2017, surplus food redistributed from retailers, manufacturers and hospitality and foodservice businesses increased by 50%, with nearly £130m worth of food saved from waste,”​ said Moon.

“And there is the potential to increase this significantly and to expand the range and type of foods with more fresh produce. Not only will this benefit people, it will also help reduce the huge environmental impact of food waste.”

About 43,000t of surplus food is redistributed from food manufacturers and retailers every year, while a further 100,000t of food – roughly equal to 250m meals a year – is edible and readily available, but goes uneaten.

This food is currently sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion or animal feed, according to DEFRA.

‘Morally indefensible’

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.”

The new scheme follows a £500,000 Food Waste Reduction Fund announced in December last year to support the reduction of food waste throughout England.

Food waste in the UK

  • 43,000t of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year
  • About 100,000t of food is edible and readily available, but goes uneaten
  • Total food waste equals 10.2mt a year – 1.8mt comes from food manufacturers
  • Household food waste comes to 8.14mt a year

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