Slashing food waste: Major players urged to ‘Step up to the Plate’

Players from the worlds of food retail and hospitality, along with social media influencers and chefs, have been urged to take ground-breaking action to drive down food waste from all sources.

The ask comes from the government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot ahead of a major symposium called ‘Step up to the Plate’, which he will host next week alongside Environment Secretary Michael Gove at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Attendees will be expected to sign up to a number of commitments on measuring and reducing their own food waste and inspiring others to follow their lead.

The full pledge has been published today, giving organisations and people an opportunity to do their bit and sign up to take action.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Minister Thérèse Coffey are among the first to sign up to the pledge.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “I want to thank our marvellous Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot for his brilliant work in bringing together the biggest players from the world of food to commit to tackling food waste.

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

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: “FDF fully supports the ‘Step up to the Plate’ pledge and the work being done to measure and reduce food waste. 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.”

Currently around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year. It is estimated a further 100,000 tonnes of food – equating to 250 million meals a year – is edible and readily available but goes uneaten. Instead, this food is currently sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, or animal feed.

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 the government will introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses. The first round of successful applicants will be announced shortly. Should progress be insufficient, the government said it would consult on legal powers to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention. The Resources and Waste Strategy also sets out how the government will ensure weekly collections of food waste, which is often smelly and unpleasant, for every household – restoring weekly collections in some local authorities, subject to consultation.

The government is committed to supporting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger by 2030.

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