‘Seize this chance’: Supermarkets press UK Government for mandatory food waste reporting

The businesses, convened by surplus food redistribution platform Too Good to Go and the British Retail Consortium, have penned an open letter to Ministers this week.

The letter emphasises that mandatory food waste reporting would be a “key step in reducing food waste”, because it would force businesses to understand their waste hotspots and use this information to design and implement effective waste reduction plans.

It acknowledges progress made under voluntary initiatives but said that a mandate would be “necessary” to “tackle this pressing issue at scale”, emphasising that food waste costs the UK economy almost £22bn each year.

Signatories of the letter include Aldi UK, Cook, Danone, Gousto, innocent Drinks, Lidl, Nestle, Ocado, Oddbox, Princes, Quorn, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, the Co-Op and Waitrose.

Too Good to Go’s co-founder Jamie Crummie said the letter shows a “strong level of industry support” for this policy change.

Crummie elaborated: “The Government has an opportunity to lead the way in the fight against food waste by introducing mandatory food waste reporting and we hope it will seize this chance.

“The stark reality is that a staggering 40% of all food produced globally goes to waste. In 2024 there is no room for half-hearted measures or commitments a decade away.”

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) first floated a food waste reporting mandate for large firms in the Resources and Waste Strategy in 2018.

Several key policy changes included in the Strategy were delayed during Covid-19 and, back in July 2023, Defra confirmed that it would shelve the implementation of compulsory food waste disclosures for businesses including supermarkets and restaurant chains.

This was despite the fact that, in consultations regarding the mandate, more than eight in ten respondents were supportive.

Defra defended this decision by stating that it never promised to implement the policy – only to consult on it. The Department also pointed to increasing disclosures in the industry made on a voluntary basis. The legality of this decision has been called into question by campaign group Feedback.

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