Cutting food waste: ‘Game-changing’ fund opens

The Government will today invite food redistribution organisations to apply for the first £5 million round of funding available a part of a multi-million pilot scheme to reduce food waste.

Redistribution organisations in England will be able to bid into a £5 million pot to help them overcome the financial barrier to redistributing surplus food which is currently going to waste but which could be redistributed.

It’s the first part of a £15 million scheme announced last year by the Environment Secretary to specifically address surplus food from retail and manufacturing.

Further opportunities are being developed and will open later this year.

Food redistribution

Currently, around 43,000t of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year.

It is estimated a further 100,000t of food – equating to 250 million meals a year – is edible and readily available but goes uneaten.

Instead, this food is currently sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, or animal feed.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “It is absolutely right that we end the scandal of food waste and this substantial funding will help that happen.

“We want to build on the great work already being done by businesses, charities and volunteers. Perfectly good food should be on people’s plates and not unnecessarily discarded.”

The fund is open to organisations that receive surplus food to distribute to those in need in England. Applicants will need to show how they will help food businesses reduce their surplus in the long term.

‘Frankly unforgivable’

The new scheme follows the Government’s £500,000 Food Waste Reduction Fund to support the substantial reduction of food waste throughout England.

The Government has also recently appointed philanthropist Ben Elliot as Food Surplus and Waste Champion to help promote awareness of the issue and help drive down food waste from all sources.

Food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot said: “Today’s announcement is an exciting step which will turbocharge efforts to reduce the frankly unforgivable amount of food which goes to waste.”

Today’s announcement builds on the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy launched last month which sets out how the Government will introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses.

Should progress be insufficient, the Government has said it will consult on seeking the power to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention.

The Resources and Waste Strategy also sets out how the Government will ensure weekly collections of food waste, which is often smelly and unpleasant, for every household – restoring weekly collections in some local authorities, subject to consultation.

Food businesses interested in redistributing surplus food can contact their local redistribution organisation to see how they can help.

The grant closes on February 20.