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Food Waste

Feedback welcomes DEFRA U-turn on food waste reporting policy

Food industry environmental campaigners have welcomed a government U-turn that means the government will reconsider whether the food industry will be required to report how much food is going to waste.

Posted on 22 November 2023

Feedback had launched a legal challenge to a decision by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to stick with a voluntary system for food waste reporting.

The campaign group said the costs of a mandatory system would prove cheaper for shoppers and dramatically cut food waste which currently amounts to at least 9.5 million tonnes a year. More than two-thirds of that waste is edible and 165,000 tonnes is suitable for redistribution.

The current voluntary approach to food waste reporting has collectively saved 251,000 tonnes of food from going to waste, worth £365 million, since 2005. This figure could only be improved if the measuring and reporting were mandatory, says Feedback.

Feedback wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with a pre-action protocol letter, signalling the start of the judicial review process after Defra responded to a consultation on mandatory reporting of food waste with a decision to keep the process voluntary because of the anticipated high costs. Feedback then launched a legal challenge of that decision.

Now Defra has responded to Feedback’s legal challenge, indicating that they would be changing tack and considering deploying a mandatory system after all.

Feedback was represented in its legal challenge by law firm Leigh Day.

Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback, said:

"We’re delighted the new Secretary of State has u-turned on his predecessor’s reckless decision to scrap plans to introduce mandatory food waste reporting for big businesses. This is a major victory for environmental campaigners. However, we cannot allow DEFRA to kick action on food waste into the long grass, yet again. All the evidence supports the case for mandatory food waste reporting. The government’s climate and waste experts recommend it, the impact assessment shows it will result in cost savings, and the vast majority of consultation respondents, including the majority of businesses, are in favour. The time for delay is over - the government must introduce this popular, effective and no-brainer measure to reduce emissions and tackle the scourge of food waste during the cost of living crisis now."

Leigh Day solicitor Ricardo Gama said:

“Our clients are delighted that the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs decided to review his predecessor’s decision not to introduce mandatory food waste reporting. His decision must make sense given that 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.”

Ricardo Gama November 2021
Climate change Environment Judicial review Planning

Ricardo Gama

Ricardo specialises in environmental claims and planning law

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