Food waste is a scandal. When so many people find it hard to access cheap, nutritious food, it is immoral to see so much thrown away. Over a million people in the UK had to turn to food banks over the last year.
Not only is food waste economically costly, it is also damaging for the environment as it's responsible for 20 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year in the UK (3% of total emissions). This problem needs to be addressed but unfortunately, this Government does not seem to see it as a priority.
That's why I've signed Early Day Motion 66 on the Disposal of Supermarket Food to show support for this important cause.
The previous Labour Government recognised the importance of food waste and established the Waste Resources Action Plan (WRAP) in 2000. This led to the launch of the Courtauld Commitment (in 2005) which is a voluntary agreement that aims to reduce waste within the grocery sector. 92% of UK retailers, grocery outlets and supermarkets have signed up to the agreement, including all major supermarkets - who work with charities to hand over unwanted edible food.
This approach led to a reduction in household food waste by 21% since 2007. The previous Labour Government also recognised the need to address the wider issues of food sustainability and security; and developed the Food 2030 strategy which set out actions to reduce food waste in the supply chain and at home. It focused on what could be done by Government and local authorities, households and consumers, the food industry; and Government and the food industry working together. The strategy coupled the recycling of waste food with the need to share or redistribute food to vulnerable people - a goal that is even more urgent following the rapid rise in the use of food banks over the past five years.
It is disappointing that during the last Parliament, the Coalition Government abandoned Food 2030 and cut WRAP funding by £10 million, effectively leaving the UK without an overall strategy to address supply, security and waste in the food industry. As you may know, the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto proposes a 25-year plan for food and farming. I welcome this but I am concerned it will not address the bigger issues in the same way the Food 2030 strategy did.
I'm pleased my Shadow Frontbench Colleagues are calling on the Government for a thorough review of waste policy. I support this and will continue to follow the issue closely.