The government has invited food redistribution organisations to apply for a share of £5 million in funding as part of a pilot scheme to reduce food waste.
Redistribution organisations in England can submit bids for funds to “overcome the financial barrier” to redistributing surplus food which is currently going to waste, Defra said in an announcement on Friday (11 January).
Any effort to increase redistribution would see less food waste going to anaerobic digestion – where operators have become increasingly competitive for material in recent years (see letsrecycle.com story).
Government estimates suggest that there is as much as 100,000 tonnes of ‘edible’ food waste from retail and food manufacturing that goes to waste each year. Currently around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year, according to Defra.
The latest round of funding is the first part of a £15 million scheme announced last year by the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to specifically address food waste from the retail and manufacturing sectors (see letsrecycle.com story). Further funding opportunities are expected to be announced later this year.
Announcing the first round of funding, Defra minister Thérèse 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 who have a need in England. Applicants will need to show how they will help food businesses reduce their surplus in the long term.
The new scheme follows 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 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP, said: “We welcome the setting up of this fund, which will help to accelerate the redistribution of surplus food from retailers and food manufacturers to people who can benefit from it.
“Redistribution is an important part of the comprehensive package of measures announced in the Resources and Waste Strategy which aims to tackle food waste holistically at all parts of the supply chain and in the home.”
The National Food Waste Conference
27 March 2019
Cavendish Conference Centre, London
The announcement builds on commitments in the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy launched last month, which sets out how government will introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses (see letsrecycle.com story).
The Resources and Waste Strategy also sets out how government will ensure weekly collections of food waste for every household – restoring weekly collections in some local authorities, subject to consultation.
The grant application closes on 20 February.