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Feedback applies for judicial review of decision to keep voluntary food waste reporting system

Food campaign group Feedback has applied for a judicial review of the government’s decision to put off plans for businesses to measure and report their food waste.

Posted on 03 November 2023

Feedback argues the decision not to go ahead with plans for mandatory food waste reporting was not based on a reasonable or rational view of the evidence it received during a consultation into the proposals.

Ninety-nine per cent of respondents to the consultation supported mandatory food waste reporting for large food businesses, says Feedback.

It argues the decision not to enforce a reporting scheme is based on an inadequate impact assessment, ignores advice from the Climate Change Committee (CCC), and fails to take into account the emissions savings that would result from making food waste reporting mandatory.

The CCC advised that mandatory reporting should be introduced by 2022. Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the body appointed by government to run its voluntary food waste reporting scheme, says “mandatory food surplus and waste reporting are essential” because of the “disappointing” lack of voluntary reporting by businesses, and warned the government that “enhanced voluntary reporting” would be “more expensive” than mandatory food waste reporting “with significantly less food waste being targeted”.

The impact assessment estimates that food waste measurement costs only an estimated £19 per tonne measured, compared to an average £1,189- £3,099 savings per tonne food waste reduced.

Feedback’s grounds for judicial review are:

  • The Defendant’s reliance on the allegedly high costs of mandatory reporting was irrational because it failed to take into account her department’s own evidence on costs, including clear evidence on indirect cost savings.
  • The Defendant failed to carry out a lawful consultation. The Decision was not based on a reasonable or rational view of the evidence in terms of who responded to the consultation as well in respect of the costs issue.
  • The Defendant failed to take into account the advice of the expert advisory bodies, the Climate Change Committee and Waste and Resources Action Programme.
  • The Defendant failed to take into account climate-based considerations, including greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback, said:

“Reducing food waste is vital to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. The government’s decision to scrap its plans to introduce mandatory food waste reporting ignores its own impact assessment, the advice of waste and climate experts, and the preference of the vast majority of consultation respondents. We are highly disappointed that the government has chosen not to reverse its plans following our lawyers’ letter and instead prefers to sit back and wait for climate catastrophe to unfold. We have now launched a crowdfunding appeal for legal fees and our lawyers have applied for a judicial review of this bizarre and reckless decision.”

Leigh Day solicitor Ricardo Gama, who represents Feedback, said:

“The government has decided to continue with a voluntary food waste reporting scheme even though all the expert advice said that voluntary measures aren’t working. That includes advice from the Climate Change Committee, who have said that mandatory food waste reporting should have been introduced by 2022 in order for the UK to stay on the Balanced Net Zero Pathway. All the evidence shows that the costs to the shopper of introducing a mandatory requirement will be massively outweighed by savings which would be achieved by reductions in food waste. Our clients say it is impossible to see how the government’s decision can be based on a rational reading of the evidence.”

Feedback are crowdfunding their legal challenge.

Ricardo Gama November 2021
Climate change Environment Judicial review Planning

Ricardo Gama

Ricardo specialises in environmental claims and planning law

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