Welsh Government unveils plans to halve food waste

The Welsh Government intends to launch a consultation to discuss a non-statutory national target to halve food waste by 2025, just one week before annual waste statistics are set to be released.

Household food waste figures in Wales have fallen by 12% between 2009 and 2015, and the Welsh Government’s cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths wants to use this trend as a launching pad for the 50% reduction. The new aim would attempt to reduce food waste against a 2006-07 baseline.

“In Wales, we are well on our way to achieving our ambitious target to become a zero-waste nation by 2050,” Griffiths said. “We are keen to build on this success and one area where we believe improvements can be made is food waste.

“The consultation I intend to launch will examine the potential to halve food waste by 2025. It is an ambitious target but I know, from our recycling performance in recent years, when we work closely with local authorities and householders we can achieve results that make the world stand up and take notice.”

Household waste in Wales is around 9% lower than the rest of the UK. Provisional waste statistics for 2016/17, set to be released next week, are expected to show an improvement on the 60% reuse, recycling and composting rate that Wales recorded the previous year.

Wales has the third highest rate globally for recycling and reuse, and Griffiths claimed that if half of all food and dry recyclables in the country were recycled, Wales would reach a 2025 recycling target of 70% for all waste nine years early.

UK targets

Griffiths made the announcement as Scotland’s cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, visited the Welsh Government.

Scotland was the first country in the UK to set a food waste reduction target and Cunningham welcomed the Welsh Government’s intentions, noting that it would “save households money, reduce emissions and contribute to the circular economy”.

Scotland has set a target to reduce food waste by 33% by 2025 – a plan that would save businesses and households across the country more than £500m if successful. Currently, food waste costs Scotland around £1bn each year, at the cost of £460 for each household.

The cross-party Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) previously called for a legally-binding target to reduce UK food waste levels.

The UK currently has no legal obligation to reduce food waste levels. Under the EU Circular Economy Package, the UK is subject to a food waste reduction target of 50% by 2030, although this figure is only a voluntary aim.

Fortunately, UK retailers and manufacturers have generated an estimated £100m in food waste savings over a three-year period as part of WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment.

Matt Mace

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