UK supermarkets and food companies have signed a pledge to help halve food waste by 2030.
More than 100 businesses and organisations, including all of the UK’s major supermarkets, have committed to “ground-breaking action” to drive down food waste and raise public awareness, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.
An estimated 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted every year in the UK after leaving the farm gate, worth around £20 billion.
It is estimated that UK householders spend £15 billion every year on food that could have been eaten but ends up being thrown away, equating to £500 a year for the average household.
The announcement follows the Government’s new food surplus and waste champion, Ben Elliot, urging organisations to Step Up To The Plate at a symposium last month.
It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK would legislate for a new legal target to cut greenhouse gases to “net zero” by 2050.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who warned last month that food production was extravagant and profligate, said: “I am delighted to see so many UK food businesses commit to game-changing action to cut food waste, and I hope that others follow suit.
“The UK is showing real leadership in this area, but each year millions of tonnes of food is wasted.
“Together we will end the environmental and economic scandal that is food waste.”
Mr Elliot said: “We are pleased to see these retailers committing to change.
“To those retailers yet to sign the pledge – why not? You have a responsibility to step up and do your bit.
“We will be highlighting those who participate and those who do not.
“The food waste crisis can only be solved by collective action.”
Stefano Agostini, chief executive at Nestle UK and Ireland, said: “Food waste is a critical issue, from an environmental and social perspective and one where we all have a role to play.
“It is crucially important that we work together to help reduce food waste across our own operations, our supply chains and also support consumers to reduce food waste in the home.”
Judith Batchelar, from Sainsbury’s, said: “Food waste is one of the biggest challenges currently facing today’s society and an intrinsic part of our combined response to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
“At Sainsbury’s it continues to be an urgent and important priority for us to tackle.
“By working collaboratively with others, from suppliers through to fellow retailers, we can work to eliminate surplus waste within every part of the supply chain process and achieve the impact that we all want to see.”
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “The next step is for all signatories to publicly report their food waste data in line with Champions 12.3 best practice.
“This will be crucial for identifying hotspots that require collective action; holding individual companies to account for the commitments they have made and for the UK delivering on Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.”