Kerry's Food Waste Bill

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28 August 2015
On 9th September, Kerry McCarthy MP will be introducing her Food Waste (Reduction) Bill in the House of Commons.

This Bill seeks to ensure that more of the obscene amounts of food needlessly wasted through the food industry supply chains - from production through to retail - is prevented or available to charities, for redistribution to people living in food poverty.

Who supports the Bill?

This Bill is receiving strong cross-party support and is supported by food waste campaigning organisations, Feedback and ‘This is Rubbish’, as well as by FareShare, WWF-UK, Friends of the Earth and Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

How can I support the Bill?

• Support the Bill on Facebook -

• Write to your MP urging them to back the Bill -

The food waste challenge

This Bill addresses the shocking and unsustainable levels of industry food waste. Globally, around a third of all food produced is wasted. The environmental impact of this waste is huge – if it was a country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the US and China. It also responds to the need to meet the global challenge of feeding a growing population from an increasingly scare agricultural base. If the amount of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25%, there would be enough to feed everyone on this planet.

Why is legislation necessary?

1. So far, Government policies have primarily focussed on household food waste – which has reduced by 21% since 2007 – but has largely ignored the waste generated by the food industry throughout its supply chain.

2. The food industry’s voluntary targets simply aren’t ambitious enough to drive the level of reduction needed, or equal to the challenge of meeting EU and UN targets on food waste reduction.

3. Government policy – including Defra’s fiscal policies, such as landfill tax - have until now focused on enforcing the ‘waste hierarchy’ further down the pyramid, benefiting slightly environmentally better methods of disposal (such as anaerobic digestion and composting) ahead of landfill. But this food is still wasted, even if it is disposed of in slightly less environmentally damaging ways. There is currently no government incentive for encouraging prevention and diverting surplus food from disposal and to those levels higher up the food waste pyramid – i.e. for human consumption and livestock feed (where unfit for human consumption).

4. The UK redistributes just 2% of its fit for purpose surplus food, in comparison to France which redistributes 20 times this volume. It cannot be right that good edible food is thrown away - or turned into compost or energy - when people are going to bed hungry, skipping meals, or can’t afford to give their children a nutritious evening meal. FareShare says that if the UK diverted for redistribution the same amount of food donated in France - around 25% of the 400,000 tonnes of fit for human consumption food that is allowed to go to waste – it would save the voluntary sector (of approx. 13-14,000 such organisations) up to £250,000,000 per year. This would make surplus food the second largest supporter of charity after the Big Lottery!

The Food Waste (Reduction) Bill provisions:

1. Takes forward the recent Belgian and French legislative proposals obliging supermarkets to donate unsold food, which was inspired by a wave of popular support for new laws to end the scandal of supermarket food waste. Although the French laws have just recently been revoked (we hope, only temporarily) for legislative procedural reasons – they ignited petitions for similar laws in the UK, and the EC also passed a resolution recommending for this law to be extended across Europe. This provision enshrines the strong moral case that food should not be thrown away when people are willing and able to take it.

2. Targets the huge waste generated by supermarkets further up their supply chains, by requiring large supermarkets and manufacturers to publish and transparently report their food waste arisings across the supply chain. Under voluntary agreements, it’s not possible to see how well individual supermarkets and manufacturers are performing against the targets. An estimated 20-40% of UK fruit and veg are rejected by supermarkets before they even reach the shops. Just recently, Feedback uncovered some shocking practices by supermarkets which are forcing farmers in Kenya to waste 50% of their produce - from unnecessarily strict cosmetic specifications, to last minute order cancellations.

3. Requires large supermarkets and manufacturers to reduce their food waste by 30% by 2025. Draft legislation for the EC’s ‘Circular Economy’ package set this target (final proposals are expected be announced later this year), which is also aligned to the proposed sustainable development goal target of halving per capita global food waste by 2030.

4. Reinforces the food waste hierarchy – reducing the environmental impact of food waste by reversing the current perverse situation which makes it cheaper to dispose of food nearing its use-by date for anaerobic-digestion, rather than providing it for redistribution – and to implement incentives (and disincentives) to enforce the food waste hierarchy.

5. Reflects the responsibilities on us all to reduce food waste across the whole food system – from individuals in our homes to global agreements.

Food Waste (Reduction): Ten Minute Rule Motion

Kerry McCarthy

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require the Secretary of State to make provision for a scheme to establish incentives to implement and encourage observance of the food waste reduction hierarchy; to encourage individuals, businesses and public bodies to reduce the amount of food they waste; to require large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors to reduce their food waste by no less than 30 per cent by 2025 and to enter into formal agreements with food redistribution organisations; to require large supermarkets and food manufacturers to disclose levels of food waste in their supply chain; and for connected purposes.


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