What's the latest on mandatory food waste reporting?

Grocery 5 min read

Late last year, the government announced a very welcome u-turn.

Steve Barclay, Environment Secretary went back on DEFRA’s decision to abandon plans to introduce mandatory food waste reporting – promising that he would “reconsider” the measures. 

As government teams go back over plans for this new legislation, we thought we’d share a few quick reminders (highlighted in this brilliant letter by the team at Feedback) on why food waste reporting  really is a no-brainer. 

It’s popular with the public 

99% of the 3,852 respondents to the government’s Consultation supported mandatory food waste reporting.

Over 16,500 people have signed this Make Food Waste Count petition urging the government to make it a legal requirement for all large and medium sized businesses to measure and report their food waste by 2024.

If you haven’t signed Feedback’s petition yet – what are you waiting for?!

The majority of businesses are in favour, too -including Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado

  • 79% of retailers
  • 73% of the hospitality
  • 67% of primary producers 

Who responded to the consultation backed the introduction of mandatory food waste reporting.

Check out this joint statement (signed by yours truly!) as well as organisations like FareShare, The Sustainable Restaurant Association, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Sodexo and CH&CO and more*, which calls for mandatory food waste reporting for all large and medium-sized businesses.

*Sustain, Wildlife and Countryside Link, the Green Alliance, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Soil Association

Tesco is one of a few big businesses calling on the government to make this change

The experts are all agreed that it’s a total no-brainer

  • WRAP, Climate Change Committee and the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee are all aligned that:
    • Mandatory food waste reporting is essential if we want to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to half global food waste by 2023
    •  They also agree that the decision to introduce this is “long overdue”, and should be implemented immediately

It’s got support from MPs 

  • 29 MPs have signed Early Day Motion 1611 calling on the government to introduce food waste reporting across all sectors – including primary production, manufacturing, retail and hospitality and food service. 
  • This EDM was signed by MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP and Green Party.
29 MPs have signed Early Day Motion 1611 in support of introducing mandatory food waste reporting

There’s massive cost saving potential for businesses and consumers

  • Food waste currently costs UK businesses and citizens an estimated £19 billion per year. 
  • The government’s impact assessment found that food waste measurement at a business level would only cost £19.18/tonne of food waste targeted –that’s pretty  good value! 
  • It also found that businesses would see savings of £1,200 to £3,100 per tonne of food waste. 
  •  Feedback have calculated that if mandatory food waste reporting in England led to just a 1% reduction in food waste, this would result in net savings to food businesses of an estimated £24.4 million per year. 

As from the time we’re writing this blog, Defra have just launched a really important survey on mandatory food waste reporting via WRAP, with a deadline of 1st March. This is targeted at large businesses only, and will look at how the “potential financial costs or savings associated with measuring and reporting would impact consumers”.

We think that the results of this survey could be pivotal! If you work for a large business, or know someone who does, please do complete it.

There’s also climate change and food security benefits to bear in mind

  • UK food waste causes an estimated 36 million tonnes CO2eq in emissions domestically and overseas.
  • In the UK, food waste on farms alone is estimated to use an area of agricultural land half the size of Wales
  • The land freed up from reducing UK food waste by 50% from farm to fork could produce enough potatoes and peas to feed 28% of the UK population
  • And provide them with all the calories they need all year round!
Image 3: Tessa Clarke, CEO and co-founder of Olio, on a recent visit to 10 Downing Street 

A question of when, not if

All things considered, we think that’s a pretty compelling case for introducing a pretty simple piece of legislation. We’re hopeful that, given the reasons above, it’s a question of when, not if the government decides to make food waste reporting mandatory.

Plus, during a recent visit to the PM’s office at 10 Downing Street, Olio CEO and co-founder Tessa Clarke sat down with Rishi Sunak himself to explain just how devastating the environmental and social impact of food waste is, as well as how impactful mandatory food waste reporting legislation would be. 

DEFRA, if you’re listening – we’ve got our fingers crossed for a positive decision soon. 

For more information on how you can get involved in Feedback’s campaign ,click here. You can sign their petition here, and donate to support their work here

Businesses – get ahead of the legislation by addressing your food waste now. Speak to our team of experts today about how Olio could help.