Criticisms of delayed requirement for large UK food and drink firms to report on food waste

Wed 09/08/2023 by Richard Wilkinson

The announcement by the UK government that large food and drink companies in the UK will not be obliged to report on their waste until 2026 at the earliest has drawn criticism from within the sector. The government promised a mandate in 2018. Defra said that the delay is part of a wide-reaching update to its 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy. The announcement follows delays to consultations on several key parts of the strategy caused by Covid and the cost-of-living crisis.

Consultations closed a year ago on mandatory food waste reporting for large UK businesses and industry bodies in the food and drink sector began pushing for answers in July, with 80 per cent of respondents in a government consultation saying they were in favour of a mandate. Defra noted in that dozens of businesses are already signed up to Wrap’s food waste reduction roadmap, which requires annual reporting and collaborative efforts to reduce waste.

Retailers participating have reduced waste by eight per cent since 2018, while producers and manufacturers have achieved a 1.4 per cent reduction. Defra also pointed out that food redistribution became more widespread during the pandemic and during the subsequent cost-of-living crisis. Redistribution rates have trebled since 2018, according to Defra estimates.

Too Good to Go’s co-founder Jamie Crummie urged the UK Government to “urgently reconsider” its decision. “This decision comes as a significant blow to the country’s efforts in reducing food waste, especially during a cost-of-living crisis, and poses risks of exacerbating dangerous environmental challenges. Neglecting food waste reduction has far-reaching global consequences, with food waste contributing 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing even the aviation industry’s impact.”

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