Last Monday Parliaments Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee launched an inquiry into the economic, social, and environmental impact of food waste in England. They have invited people to write to them over the next few months with a deadline 13th September with their ideas and suggestions regarding how to ensure we reduce food waste. To put that concept into focus across the UK, approximately 8 million tonnes of food is wasted each year after it has been manufactured or grown. The waste occurs in our homes, in the supply chain of retailers and wholesalers and as part of the hospitality sector (ie after it has been cooked). It is estimated that 60% or nearly 5 Million tonnes of this food waste could have been avoided which has an annual value of approximately £16 billion a year. That money comes from our pockets in one way or another and equates to around £250 for every man woman and child.
I am proud to have been involved in the creation of FareShare in Brighton & Hove in 2002, a charity that last year redistributed nearly 500 tonnes of food that would otherwise have gone to waste. Using the same crude statistics that the Government has published means that our project prevents around £1.7 M worth of food going to waste, yet the cost of our project is less than £150,000 each year so we save more than £10 worth of food for every £1 it costs to run the project. Our fundraising involves a small amount of public money, some funding from charitable trusts and individuals and making a nominal charge to the charities we hand the the food to under strict health and safety standards.
According to the Government website, the EFRA Committee will examine the economic, environmental and social impacts of food waste with a focus on consumers, the retail and hospitality sectors, and local government. In particular, the Committee will ask how far voluntary initiatives can further reduce food waste or if legislation is required in this area. Importantly the manufacturing and agriculture sectors are outside the scope of the inquiry. It would be fantastic if people responding to this inquiry could argue for schemes such as FareShare to be treated as essential and for the infrastructure of such schemes to be underwritten by a national food Trust that is funded by food businesses which should be obliged to utilise such schemes with all edible food. Sadly some food retailers turn to Anaerobic Digestion schemes as their first resource. Any national distributor that is destroying a disproportionate amount of food waste through AD needs to be challenged as part of this review.