It’s scandalous that around a third of all food produced is wasted: putting pressure on scarce land and resources, contributing to deforestation and adding to global greenhouse gas emissions. It also feels immoral that good food is thrown away, while people are queuing at food banks and going to bed hungry.
We need urgent action to tackle the scandal of wasted food. But while consumers have reduced their food waste by over 20% since 2007, over half of all food waste occurs before we even buy it.
The importance of food waste was recognised by the last Labour Government, which established the Waste and Resources Action Programme. It also addressed this issue as part of a wider strategy for food sustainability and security, Food 2030. This vision clearly set out the actions needed to reduce food waste in the supply chain and at home, and the need to redistribute food to vulnerable people, which has become more urgent given rapid rise in the use of food banks in the UK over the past five years
However, during the last Parliament, the Coalition Government quietly shelved Food 2030 and cut WRAP funding by £10 million. Without a long-term strategy for making our system of food and farming more sustainable, Government policy has been characterised by fragmentation and failure to address some of the very serious challenges facing us, from reducing dependency on food banks to the growth of diet-related ill health.
If the food industry cannot voluntarily drive the level of change we need, government intervention is necessary. Kerry McCarthy MP’s Food Waste (Reduction) Bill commits us to the UN goal of halving food waste by 2030, sets out a clear path for reducing food waste and will ensure perfectly good surplus food is donated to charities.