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Major UK supermarkets sign world-leading government pledge to help halve food waste

More than 100 of the biggest players in food, including all of the UK’s major supermarkets, have signed a pledge to take ground-breaking action to drive down food waste following a call to action from the government.

Big-hitters from the world of food and sustainability including Aldi, Asda, Boots, Café Nero, Co-op, Costa, FDF, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks, Tesco, M&S, Morrisons, Nestlé, Ocado, UK Hospitality, Unilever, WWF and Waitrose have signed a pledge committing to help halve food waste by 2030, and raising public awareness of the issue through a week of action.

Currently in the UK an estimated 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted annually after leaving the farm gate, worth around £20bn.

It is estimated that UK householders spend £15bn every year on food that could have been eaten but ends up being thrown away, equating to £500 a year for the average household.

Today’s announcement comes after the government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot urged organisations to ‘Step up to the Plate’ at a landmark symposium last month. The event brought together around 300 key players from various parts of the food industry for a day of targeted discussion and action.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “I am delighted to see so many UK food businesses commit to game-changing action to cut food waste, and I hope that others follow suit.

“The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but each year millions of tonnes of food is wasted.

“I want to thank our Food Surplus and Waste Champion for inspiring business to step up to the plate. Together we will end the environmental and economic scandal that is food waste.”

Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot said: “We are pleased to see these retailers committing to change. To those retailers yet to sign the pledge – why not? You have a responsibility to step up and do your bit.

“We will be highlighting those who participate and those who do not. The food waste crisis can only be solved by collective action.”

Stefano Agostini, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé UK & Ireland said: “Food waste is a critical issue, from an environmental and social perspective and one where we all have a role to play.

“It is crucially important that we work together to help reduce food waste across our own operations, our supply chains and also support consumers to reduce food waste in the home.”

Judith Batchelar OBE, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand also commented: “Food waste is one of the biggest challenges currently facing today’s society and an intrinsic part of our combined response to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. At Sainsbury’s it continues to be an urgent and important priority for us to tackle.

“By working collaboratively with others, from suppliers through to fellow retailers, we can work to eliminate surplus waste within every part of the supply chain process and achieve the impact that we all want to see.”

Chair of Champions 12.3 and Group CEO Tesco, Dave Lewis said:

“Today’s announcement that over 100 UK food companies have signed up to the Step up to the Plate pledge is welcome news. The next step is for all signatories to publicly report their food waste data in line with Champions 12.3 best practice.

“This will be crucial for identifying hotspots that require collective action; holding individual companies to account for the commitments they have made and for the UK delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.”

Earlier this year the government launched a £15 million game-changing 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.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has invited organisations to apply for the second round of more than £6 million funding under government’s game-changing scheme to slash food waste. We would like to see larger food businesses report their food waste transparently on an annual basis in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. We will consult later this year on mandatory reporting for larger businesses.

The government is committed to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to help halve food waste by 2030, report on progress and prioritise action.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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