Government labels food waste ‘a scandal’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pledge for change: food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot said food waste was “an environmental, moral and financial scandal”
Pledge for change: food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot said food waste was “an environmental, moral and financial scandal”

Related tags: Food, Food waste

The Government has encouraged businesses to reduce the volume of food they are throwing away by signing up to a list of commitments.

Its ‘food surplus and waste champion’ Ben Elliot described food waste as “an environmental, moral and financial scandal,” ahead of a symposium with businesses and policymakers.

Publicans can sign up to a pledge published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs that commits businesses to take action.

The Government wants to see the country halve its food waste by 2030 in line with a goal set by the UN’s sustainable development body.

Pubs waste 173,000 tonnes of food every year, according to research from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

The annual cost totals about £20,000 per site and the equivalent of one in every six meals, according to the SRA.

Under the pledge, businesses must commit to being active participants in a food conversation week in November and encouraging change on an individual level too.

During this week, businesses will reach out to younger consumers to encourage new social norms around valuing food.

They must also pledge to set an “ambitious” food waste reduction target and measure their progress with regular updates.

Pubs are also encouraged to work with the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on amplifying its Guardians of Grub​ campaign.

Real change needed

Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “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.”

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said the UK needed a wake-up call on the matter.

He said: “With climate change firmly in the political and social spotlight, it is worth reminding ourselves that unless we fix the world’s food system, we will not be able to bring about the reduction in global warming we need to halt the damage to our planet.

“We need to wake up to the amount of food we waste as a nation and take action in our daily lives to stop throwing perfectly good food away.”

An event called ‘Step up to the Plate’ will be hosted by Elliot and environment secretary Michael Gove and food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Elliot said: “We intend for the symposium and pledge to spark action, not just conversation, and inspire us all to champion change."

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