Government issues £3m grant to tackle food waste during coronavirus outbreak
The UK Government has issued a £3.25m redistribution fund across England to help organisations cut back on food waste by redistributing surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Defra-funded grant will be managed by WRAP and all food redistribution businesses and charities can bid for grants over the coming months. The Government hopes that up to 14,000 tonnes of surplus stock can be redistributed to organisations impacted by social distancing measures and those unable to access usual commercial support networks.
WRAP’s chief executive Marcus Gover said: “It is critical in these unprecedented times that we maximise the amount of surplus food redistributed.
“These grants offer crucial financial support to redistribution organisations, where it will have the most impact. We know from managing redistribution funds that this money will make a huge difference to many people.”
The UK’s annual food waste output in 2017 stood at 10.2 million tonnes, according to WRAP. Supply chain waste and consumer waste are notably the two largest contributors to the UK’s food waste mountain, accounting for 2.85 million tonnes and 7.1 million tonnes each year respectively.
Last year, Defra launched a new scheme enabling food firms and members of the UK public to commit to aligning their food waste outputs with SDG target 12.3, called ‘Step Up to the Plate’. The programme is being spearheaded by Defra’s food waste ‘champion’ Ben Elliot and has received support from the likes of Nestlé, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose & Partners and Costa.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “I am proud of the many organisations across the UK working to ensure food and supplies are provided to those who need it most need during this challenging time.
“This funding will support people in need while ensuring that we minimise the amount of food which goes to waste – benefiting both society and the environment.”
The funding pot builds on a £15m food waste fund opened last year, alongside an additional £750,000 "reprioritised" from within the Department, it explained. The grant scheme is to be managed by green non-profit the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
Last September, WRAP revealed that 121 of the UK's biggest food businesses are now providing evidence of their efforts to halve food waste by 2030, in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).