Kerry McCarthy MP backs ground-breaking zero food waste target for Bristol

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19 October 2012
Kerry McCarthy MP has endorsed a ground-breaking commitment to turn the city into Britain’s first ‘zero food waste city.’

The ‘zero food waste’ commitment is a key manifesto pledge by Marvin Rees, Labour’s Mayor candidate for the 15th November election in the city. He has pledged to ‘put the power of the mayor’s office behind attempts to make Bristol a zero food waste city and eliminate food poverty.’

The latest research by WRAP estimates that, on average, households waste £13 a week on food, a total of £12 billion across the UK. While retailers and manufacturers waste a staggering 3.6 million tonnes of food per annum. 

Kerry McCarthy and the Shadow DEFRA team visited the Waitrose store in Clifton to discuss the retailers’ new deal with food charity FareShare to ensure no edible food is wasted at their branches. FareShare accredited charities will now be able to collect surplus food directly from their local Waitrose branches to help those most in need. 

Reducing food waste by retailers and food producers will allow more edible food to be distributed to local foodbanks and food charities such as FoodCycle. Labour has been working with FareShare and the food industry to redistribute surplus food to foodbanks.

Demand for help from foodbanks has doubled according to the Trussell Trust with nearly 100,000 receiving help from one of their foodbanks over the last 6 months. Food prices rose by more than four per cent over the last year and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate that around 5.8 million people in the UK struggle to afford everyday essentials like food. FareShare’s Bristol depot supplies 67 food banks, hostels, and other outlets across Bristol with food it has collected from supermarket distribution centres.

In welcoming the initiative, Kerry McCarthy MP said: “I am really encouraged that since I introduced the Food Waste Bill in Parliament in March supermarkets are becoming more receptive to tackling the problem of food waste. The Big Supermarkets should now follow Waitrose’s example and divert 100% of unsold food to those who need it most. Today hundreds of families in Bristol are now depending on foodbanks to get by while edible food is being dumped in landfill. Marvin is going to put that right – ensuring that example set by Waitrose is not the exception but the norm for all supermarkets.”

Mary Creagh MP, Shadow Environment Secretary, commented:  “Bristol has an opportunity to lead Britain by becoming the first zero food waste city in the country, helping local food charities and creating new green jobs. Britain is the seventh richest nation in the world yet we face a growing epidemic of hidden hunger, particularly in children. It was great to meet Marvin and to hear more his plans for tackling food waste and working with groups like FareShare and FoodCycle.”

Marvin Rees, Labour candidate for Mayor of Bristol added: “I want Bristol to be the first zero food waste city in the UK as a crucial element of my plan to tackle poverty and reduce inequalities. Food poverty is a key theme of that plan. Bristol is Britain's second most affluent city and it is plainly unacceptable that a growing number of families here struggle to put enough food on the table. ”


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