Today in parliament, my colleague Kerry McCarthy MP introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill designed to make sure that supermarkets and others make better use of the massive amount of food that is wasted every day.
I am pleased to be sponsoring the bill, as I believe more needs to be done to reduce the amount of food that is wasted by supermarkets and others.
Up to 50% of the edible and healthy food we produce ends up being thrown away. This is obviously hugely wasteful in itself, but it also has a significant effect on climate change, deforestation, and ultimately the cost of food itself.
At a time when many families in the UK are living in food poverty, with hundreds of people locally relying on food banks and other charity services, it is even more important that action is taken.
Supermarkets in particular are responsible for the disposal of tonnes of perfectly edible food every day – food that could be used by those who need it rather than simply wasted.
Kerry’s bill aims to do three things
- Place a legal obligation on large supermarkets and large manufacturers to donate surplus food to charities, for redistribution to individuals in food poverty.
- Encourage and incentivise all other businesses and public bodies which generate food waste – from small food retailers to restaurants – to donate their surplus for redistribution.
- Introduce a UK version of 1996 US legislation, The Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects good faith food donors and recipient agencies/foodbanks from civil and criminal liability, except in cases of gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct. This would remove some of the barriers that currently stop people donating food.
You can find more information on the bill here.
However, it isn’t just in parliament that this issue is being taken seriously. There is also plenty of work going on locally to reduce food waste. Love Food Hate Waste is a hugely positive campaign, and is supported by Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority
Additionally, organisations like Faiths4Change are delivering outreach programmes locally to help make the changes in behaviour that can reduce the amount of wasted food. I hope the government will listen and act in relation to the issues that the bill raises.
We can all work together to reduce the food we waste, and make much more efficient use of the massive amount of surplus food that is generated and then thrown away every day.