Make Food Waste Count

24th November 2023

Legal Challenge

UPDATE 16th April 2024: In a Westminster Hall Debate, the letter and its call for mandatory food waste reporting was referenced by Sharon Hodgson MP. Last month Scottish Circular Economy Minister, Lorna Slater also referenced the letter and interest from businesses in the policy's introduction.

We received a response from the Environment Minister Robbie Moore which confirms the Government is "gathering
further evidence and will re-consider all the options in the 2022 consultation using the latest available data. We expect to retake the decision later this year."

---

UPDATE 18th March 2024: We joined with the British Retail Consortium, Too Good To Go and 29 other leading UK companies in co-signing an open letter to Steve Barclay calling for mandatory public food waste reporting. The coverage in titles including The Grocer and edie reached over 3 million people.

 

---

Original post:

In early November 2023, we supported Feedback's legal challenge to the government’s decision to drop mandatory food waste reporting for big food businesses.

Feedback was seeking a judicial review of the UK government’s decision.

We provided funding, and joined with Dash Water, Olio and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to launch a crowdfunder to help cover the legal fees.

What’s the problem?

Food waste is not only a huge waste of water and natural resources, it causes about 10% of global emissions. This colossal waste is also a scandal when so many people are going hungry.

In the UK, 10.4 - 13 million tonnes of food are wasted annually. That's equivalent to about 1/3 of our country's 40 million tonnes of yearly food imports.

Halving UK food waste would save 1 million hectares of cropland domestically and overseas. That land could produce enough potatoes and peas to feed 28% of the UK's population their yearly calories!

In the UK, it's estimated that almost half the food wasted comes from businesses, but very few tell us how much food they waste.

To tackle this industry problem, the government pledged to introduce a groundbreaking new food waste law to make businesses measure and publish their food waste. This would be a BIG DEAL – causing a revolution in food waste transparency and setting a template for the world to follow.

What happened?

The government scrapped plans for this vital law despite a consultation that showed over 80% of people were in favour of it (including 30 out of 46 large businesses)! They said that the "voluntary approach will remain in place until mid-2025 at a minimum" - despite it clearly not working.

The decision went against the advice of the government’s own waste and climate experts, and it has huge repercussions for our planet.

So what did we do?

Feedback have been campaigning against food waste for over a decade, including pushing for this consultation to happen through lengthy delays - it was meant to happen in 2019, as announced in the Waste and Resources Strategy, rehashed in the Food Strategy and then the Net Zero Strategy, and finally published 28th July 2023!)

So close to seeing potential for change, Feedback were not going to let this decision go unchallenged!

They decided to take legal action. And we wanted to be there to support them.

The lawyers wrote to the UK Government outlining the challenge. The government requested multiple extensions that pushed close to the deadline for filing for Judicial Review. But Feedback were ready with the necessary documentation and filed in time.

Campaign progress!

In a cabinet reshuffle, Steve Barclay took over from Thérèse Coffey as the new Secretary of State for the the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Just days later, on 22 November, he announced that he would review the decision.

He has stated that a new decision will be made in the first half of 2024. We look forward to supporting Feedback to hold the Government to account.

A big thank you to everyone who shared our posts and contributed to the Crowdfunder. We'll update this post when we have more news.

Cheers!