Food Waste Bill

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On 14th March 2012 Kerry McCarthy MP will be introducing the Food Waste Bill in the House of Commons. The Bill would ensure that more of the obscene amounts of food wasted by supermarkets and manufacturers is donated to charities, so they can redistribute it to the increasing number of people living in food poverty in the UK.

Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, said:

“The amount of food wasted in the UK is a scandal. Reducing food waste needs to be addressed urgently and as a growing environmental priority. In the EU, up to 50% of edible and healthy food gets wasted and is set to rise by 40% by 2020 if no action is taken. By creating a surplus of – uneaten – food, the global food industry is adding pressure on scarce land and resources, contributing to deforestation, needlessly adding to global greenhouse gas emissions and helping to drive up global food prices. Government policy focuses 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 there is no government incentive for diverting surplus food from disposal and to those levels higher up the food waste pyramid – for human consumption, and where unfit for human consumption, livestock feed.

“It is also immoral that good food is thrown away when food poverty is growing. In the current economic climate, with rising energy and rent bills and a freeze on many incomes, food is sometimes one of the few ‘flexible’ costs. A Netmums survey last month found that one in five mums are skipping meals so their children can eat. Foodbanks rely on donations from supermarkets and manufacturers, of food that would otherwise be wasted, because – for example – it may be close to its use-by date or is part of a marketing campaign which has now finished. But only a tiny percentage of food that’s wasted gets donated to food banks and charities. This Bill seeks to address barriers to food donation and to ensure that more of the food wasted by supermarkets and manufacturers is donated to charities that redistribute it to the increasing number of people living in food poverty in the UK”.

How can I support the Bill?

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Write to your MP urging thme to Back the Food Waste Bill

Who Supports the Bill?

The Bill has cross party support, with MPs from across 4 parties backing it: Luciana Berger, Rob Flello, Andrew George, Zac Goldsmith, Kate Green, Laura Sandys, Caroline Lucas, Joan Ruddock, Henry Smith, Joan Walley, Alan Whitehead. It is also backed by Friends of the Earth, WWF-UK, chef, Lorraine Pascale (author of best selling cookery books and presenter of TV cookery series), FareShare, FoodCycle and Feeding the 5000.

Luciana Berger, Labour & Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said:

“I’m proud to be sponsoring Kerry’s Ten Minute Rule Bill. Her proposals are urgently needed.

“Rising prices, higher living costs and falling wages making it more difficult for people to make ends meet and food poverty is increasing. It is a national scandal that while thousands of people are forced to go hungry, supermarkets throw away tonnes of perfectly good food every year.

“The measures in Kerry’s bill would mean any excess food goes to those who are undernourished, rather than being buried as landfill. This bill will save lives and benefit our environment. I’ll be urging other MPs to vote for it in Parliament too.”

Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park & North Kingston, said:

“Food waste has reached staggering proportions. We bin nearly £12bn worth of food every year, and nearly a third of fruit and vegetables being thrown away before they even reach our shops. The environmental crisis, combined with growing poverty requires us to address this urgently, which is why I am pleased to support Kerry McCarthy’s Bill.”


Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party, said:  

“At a time when people across the country are struggling to feed their families, and as the environmental consequences of the global resource crunch hit home, it’s completely unacceptable that so much of our food waste ends up in the bin. This Bill is a real call to arms to address the social and environmental consequences of the way we produce, consume and dispose of our food – and to create a national food policy that is fit for purpose. Voluntary organisations such as FareShare and Brighton and Hove Food Partnership in my constituency are already doing fantastic work in redistributing some of the food fit for human consumption. But we now need the Government to incentivise food donation and ensure that surplus food reaches the people who need it most.”

Kelvin Cheung, The CEO and founder of FoodCycle, said:

“This bill proposal comes at a crucial time of rising poverty, food prices and alarming rates of malnutrition in communities all across the UK.

FoodCycle sees the Good Samaritan Act having the potential of releasing a tumult of great surplus food from retailers big and small who hitherto have been unable to give away because of risk of liability for the donations.”

Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley, said:

“Food waste is not only an environmental concern but a social problem too. It is morally right that large retailers should make available food that would be dumped anyway to those most in need or struggling. This proposed legislation is timely and right.”
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