As a member of the Government, I am not able to sign any Early Day Motions, and am therefore unable to sign EDM 66. However, I appreciate how important an issue this is and that we should be doing everything we can to reduce food waste to an absolute minimum. It is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste.
I know the Government has been working closely with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), food retailers and industry to limit food waste to its lowest possible level. To this end, Government Ministers have backed several rounds of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement to limit waste. It's encouraging 90% of the food manufacturing and retailer sector have signed up to this commitment. As a result, domestic household food waste has already been reduced by 21%, and food waste in the supply chain has reduced by 8%. The process has also seen the amount of redistributed surplus food double between 2011 and 2013.
Separately, a voluntary agreement within the hospitality and food services industry was launched in 2012. Over 170 signatories and supporters have signed up to an ambitious set of targets both to reduce the amount of food waste they produce, and to manage it better by recycling and sending waste food for anaerobic digestion to produce energy. The Government also continues to work closely with industry to help them forge closer links with redistribution charities across the whole supply chain. It is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste.
I am interested by a new French policy of requiring supermarkets to donate food that would otherwise go to waste to charity. There are no current plans to replace the policy in the UK, but if the French initiative is a success, I think it something this Government should look at closely.
(As a side note, MPs also had the opportunity to discuss the issue recently in a Westminster Hall debate on 11th June. You can read the full debate at this link.)