Food Waste Bill postponed for a second time

Food Waste Bill postponed for a second timeA second reading to Parliament of the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill has again been postponed after the Friday sitting of the House of Commons failed to reach it on the agenda.

This is the second time that the bill has been relisted and it is now due to be read this Friday (11 March).

The bill was originally presented to the House of Commons on 9 September with a second reading scheduled for the 29 January, which was postponed to the 4 March.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East and Shadow Environment Secretary, presented the original reading and predicted that the second reading would be ‘way down the Order Paper’ on the 4 March, which was the case.

After the food waste bill was missed off the agenda again, McCarthy tweeted that she was not surprised that the government had objected to the second reading of the bill, and that she did not expect any greater luck on Friday.

When contacted for comment, McCarthy said: “We need urgent action to tackle the scandal of wasted food, so it is disappointing that the government has blocked my cross-party Food Waste Bill. The UK is throwing away 15 million tonnes of food a year. But while consumers have reduced their food waste by over 20 per cent since 2007, over half of all food waste now occurs before we even have a chance to buy it.

“We have committed to the UN goal of halving food waste by 2030, but voluntary action by the industry is failing to deliver results on the scale needed to meet this target, so legislation is essential. My Bill set out a clear path for reducing food waste and ensuring perfectly good surplus food is donated to charities. I will continue to advocate for the government to introduce such measures.”

Food Waste (Reduction) Bill

Drafted by MPs across different political parties, including the Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas and Zac Goldsmith of the Conservatives, as well as McCarthy, the aim of the bill is to tackle ‘unsustainable levels of industry food waste’.

During her presentation, McCarthy pointed out that ‘more than half of the food waste is waste by the food industry across the whole supply chain’. She added that the waste is generated by “poor demand forecasting, over-ordering and cosmetic requirements. An estimated 20 to 40 per cent of perfectly edible fruit and veg is rejected by supermarkets before it reaches the shops.”

The proposed bill would introduce a food waste reduction target of 30 per cent by 2025, higher than the current voluntary targets and in line with the circular economy package outlined by the European Commission last year.

Amongst other proposed measures is the requirement for supermarkets to donate unsold food that is still fit for consumption to redistribution organisations such as FareShare. According to the charity, if 25 per cent of the UK’s surplus food was redistributed to charities it would save the voluntary sector up to £250 million per year.

The Food Waste Bill would also require large supermarkets and food manufacturers to disclose levels of food waste in their supply chain.

Fearnley-Whittingstall ‘welcomes bill’

The bill is supported by celebrity chef, and this year’s Resource Hot 100 winner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who has said: “The supermarkets need to step up and massively reduce the waste they cause in the food supply chain – and that’s exactly what the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill calls on them to do.

“They need to adhere to the principle that food that is fit to be eaten by people, should be eaten by people. It’s ridiculous that so much good food is going into anaerobic digestion, rather than being redistributed to people in need. We must ask the supermarkets first to be transparent about how much they are wasting – from farm, to production, through to retail – and secondly come up with coherent, credible plans for reducing that waste.

“I welcome this bill, and hope MPs get behind it, so we can put to an end the scandal of food being wasted on a huge scale.”

A third of all food produced is thrown away, according to figures from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ campaign aims to tackle food waste through pledges and crowdfunded projects.

A full PDF version as well as more information about the status of the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill can be found at the parliament website.