Government unveils fresh funding for business fight against food waste

Grants of between £20

The pot is split into a £650,000 package supporting organisations inspiring the public to reduce food waste in households and a £500,000 pot for organisations working to create useful products and materials from food that would have otherwise been wasted in supply chains.

Food waste from households has accounted for the largest proportion of the UK’s annual food waste mountain for several years now and stood at 4.5 million tonnes in 2018. WRAP has recorded a decrease of 1.4 million tonnes of waste food from domestic sources between 2007 and 2018, but this is not enough to align the UK with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3.

To that end, the £650,000 package, called, the Citizen Food Waste Prevention Grant, will back organisations working to educate consumers on storing food properly, understanding its shelf life and cooking with what they have. It will also support organisations working to improve business’ role in the mitigation of food waste at home, for example through better labelling.

While supply chain waste accounts for a much smaller portion of the UK’s overall food waste, progress to reduce waste in this space has proven slow to date. Businesses reporting to WRAP have recorded, on average, a food waste reduction of just 4% in this space since 2015.

The £500,000 package will support organisations of all sized working to turn food that would have otherwise been wasted into new resources and products. Innovations in this space have been emerging at a pace in recent times, from alcoholic drinks brewed with surplus bread and wonky grapes, to polymers made from waste fruit and shellfish by-products. In order to secure funding, projects must demonstrate collaboration between two or more organisations.

Collectively, the funding pots are being managed by WRAP on behalf of the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

“The UK is a proud world leader in tackling food waste, owing in part to the innovation and creativity of many organisations across the UK – from educating the public on food waste in our homes to making our supply chains greener,” Environment and Rural Opportunities minister Rebecca Pow said.

“I look forward to supporting UK organisations who are taking up the mantle to tackle food waste and to create a better world for ourselves, as well as generations to come. It makes sense in every way – it cuts collection costs, saves the customer money and importantly reduces emissions which benefits the environment.”

Policy shift

Given the intersections between food waste and climate change, community, health and wellbeing, and, ultimately, the economy, those working across the UK’s green economy will have been pleased to see the issue gain fresh traction in Westminster over the past years.

After appointing its first Food Waste Champion, unveiling its Resources and Waste Strategy and gradually announcing various new funding pots aimed at tackling food waste, Defra last year launched a commitment empowering businesses and individuals to halve their food waste outputs by 2030.

Called Step Up to The Plate, the commitment has garnered the support of businesses including Tesco, Nestle, Waitrose & Partners and Costa Coffee.

As for household food waste, the Resources and Waste Strategy’s plans for universal weekly food waste collections by local authorities took a step forward this week with the reintroduction of the Environment Bill. The Bill sets out a timeline for consultations on the move, which the Government believes could be implemented by the end of 2023.

Sarah George

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