The UK government has awarded £4.2m to four organisations to increase efforts to distribute food waste from industry.
The awards, following a competitive tender process, are part of a £15m scheme to cut the estimated 100,000 tonnes of food each year that is edible but goes uneaten in the UK. Currently around 43,000 tonnes of food is redistributed from retailers and manufacturers each year.
The organisations – Fareshare, Company Shop Group, The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield – will use the money to expand existing schemes that take surplus food from manufacturers and retailers.
Proposed solutions included developing new supply routes from growers and local distributors, funding new lines and additional staff, and increasing capacity for repackaging and labelling.
Redistributed food is used by charities and community groups, including homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs and lunch clubs for the elderly.
A further round of funding will focus on improving the infrastructure for companies to distribute more surplus food, which is currently used for things such as energy generation and animal feed.
The announcement is timed to coincide with an event on Monday (13 May) at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum called Step up to the Plate, where businesses will be urged to sign a pledge to measure and reduce food waste.
“Should progress be insufficient, we will consult on seeking legal powers to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention,” said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Environment minister Thérèsa Coffey said: “Food waste is unnecessary and morally unforgiveable. We must end it, and our £15m million fund is a true game-changer in making that happen.”
Lindsay Boswell, FareShare’s chief executive said: “The vast majority of the surplus food is found in the supply chain of factories, packing houses, even going back to the farms themselves.
“We aim to use this fund to make it cost no more to divert this food to FareShare than any other form of disposal and are calling on the food industry to step up and help us as the UK takes a major step towards reducing food waste.”
Food waste in the UK totals 10.2m tonnes per year, of which 1.8m tonnes comes from food manufacture, 1m tonnes from the hospitality sector, 260,000 tonnes from retail and the remainder from households.
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