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A government consultation that could force companies to publish details of how much food they waste has been delayed until next year, triggering criticism by campaigners that ministers are using the pandemic as an excuse to stall efforts to drive down the amount thrown away.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had this month been due to consult on mandatory food waste reporting in England, but has put the exercise on hold because of the disruption caused to the food and drink industry by Covid-19.
Defra had started talks with suppliers and supermarkets to pave the way for the consultation – first promised two years ago – with almost 200 companies and trade bodies involved.
The companies could be required to regularly report on the food waste in their supply chains and take action to meet the UN’s sustainable development goal, set five years ago, to halve food waste by 2030.
A Defra spokesman confirmed the setback and said: “Reducing food waste is integral to making our food industry and wider society more sustainable, and in a recent UN report the UK was heralded for leading the way in tackling food waste. We are committed to holding a consultation on mandatory business reporting to drive down food waste and are working closely with industry and stakeholders to shape this work.”
Supermarkets have been criticised for wasting food that could be diverted to food banks, at a time of record usage during lockdown. Tesco was in 2013 the first UK retailer to voluntarily publish its food waste figures annually – and through the international Champions 12.3 coalition has called for others to do so.
Carina Millstone, executive director of the Feedback charity, said: “The government seems to be using the pandemic as an excuse to delay the important climate action it first promised two years ago. That promise has turned out to be hollow. By kicking the consultation into the long grass yet again, it is missing a vital trick to reduce food waste and combat climate change.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Ministers accused of using pandemic as excuse to delay food waste reporting | Environment