Food giants and supermarkets pledge to help slash waste

Food giant Nestle and major supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose will pledge to help halve food waste by 2030, ministers have announced.

Major players from food retail and hospitality as well as chefs and “social media influencers” will join forces at an event on Monday to take action to end the “scandal” of food waste.

Around 300 individuals and businesses have been invited to the Step Up To The Plate symposium at the Victoria and Albert Museum in central London, and are expected to adopt the package of commitments.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove and minister Therese Coffey will be among the first to sign up, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Nestle and supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are also expected adopt the measures, the department added.

Speaking at the event, Mr Gove is expected to say that throwing away millions of tonnes of food is an “environmental, economic and moral scandal”.

He will add: “Every year, millions of tonnes of good, nutritious food is thrown away.

“This is an environmental, economic and moral scandal, and I am determined to tackle it.

“I urge businesses to join me in signing the pledge to deliver real change to stop good food going to waste.”

The symposium is being hosted by the Government’s food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot, who is expected to tell delegates: “Climate change is no longer a buzzword – we must all stand up and be counted. We squander 10 million tonnes of food and drink every year.

“Businesses throw away food worth an estimated £5 billion and £15 billion is wasted from our homes – the emissions this creates is the equivalent of every third car on the road.

“We simply must put an end to this.”

The UK currently wastes 10.2 million tonnes of food a year, with 1.8 million coming from food manufacture, one million from the hospitality sector, 260,000 from retail and the rest from households, Defra said.

Businesses are expected to set their own targets to help contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving per capita global food waste by 2030.

The Government also wants attendees to adopt the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to help companies measure and report on efforts to cut back waste.

Devised by WRAP, a non-profit sustainability organisation, and IGD, a research and training charity, the roadmap already boasts supermarket giants such as Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons among the signatories to its principles.

Businesses are also asked to take part in a Food Conservation week of action in November.

But while Tesco CEO Dave Lewis welcomed the pledge, he said a commitment from all UK food companies to publish their food waste data within the next 12 months should also be part of the agreement.

Mr Lewis is also chairman of Champions 12.3, a global coalition of leaders dedicated to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030.

He added: “We welcome the UK Government’s focus in this area and see an opportunity to press even further to continue to lead the world in our efforts to tackle food waste.”

Tesco said it will publish its latest food waste data in its annual report on Tuesday.

In 2017, the retail and food manufacturing sectors wasted 205,000 tonnes of surplus food, Defra said, with 100,000 tonnes, equal to 250 million meals a year, of this surplus food estimated by WRAP to be accessible and edible.

The Government has committed to investing £15 million in tackling food waste and published a Resources and Waste Strategy in December.

It also plans to consult on mandatory annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses and on establishing legal powers to introduce targets for waste prevention.

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