29 June 2020 by Robyn White

Defra says food waste initiative is ‘bearing fruit’ 

Defra has said its food waste prevention initiative is “bearing fruit”, a year after announcing the first instalment of its £15 million fund to tackle the issue.

Last year, four companies —FareShare, Company Shop Group, The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield — received £4 million between them “to help overcome barriers to getting food currently going to waste onto people’s plates”.

Defra said food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes per year

Defra said in a statement: “This ambitious work is bearing real fruit – with new schemes already diverting tonnes of edible food to charity centres across the country and new highly skilled teams in place to find new, innovative ways to reach hard to reach surplus food.”


The £15 million fund was announced by then Environment Secretary Michael Gove in October 2018 (see letsrecycle.com story).

The following January, companies were invited to bid for around £4 million of the fund, which was given to the successful companies in July.

A second fund of £3 million, delivered by WRAP as part of their Resource Action Fund, is currently supporting 17 redistribution organisations carry out Food Waste Prevention work across the country.

“I am determined that we find new and innovative ways to ensure perfectly good, nutritious food does not end up in the bin”

Rebecca Pow, recycling minister

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, £2 million has also been awarded to redistribution organisations to help charities with their food offer during this challenging time, which is still open for small grant applications.


Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “I am determined that we find new and innovative ways to ensure perfectly good, nutritious food does not end up in the bin and is instead redistributed to those who need it.

“We have already committed £15 million to cut food waste, and have increased this during the coronavirus pandemic to support this effort even more. This huge challenge has highlighted the value of food and, more than ever, the importance of ensuring good food does not go to waste.”


Company Shop Group, which consists of commercial redistribution organisation Company Shop and social enterprise Community Shop, redistributes surplus food and household products to people working in the NHS, emergency services and food supply chain, and to those in low-income families.

Using the £1.9 million in funding it received from Defra, the company has kick-started a project to target the hardest to reach surplus food and redistribute this to where it is needed. Its social enterprise Community Shop, which runs a network of five social supermarket stores across England, also received £50,000 in Covid-19 funding to support its efforts to combat the challenges of the pandemic.

FareShare also received £1.9 million in funding from Defra funding, as well as an additional £444,000 during the coronavirus period, to enable them and their network partners to access many thousands of tonnes of surplus food with new equipment, vehicles and staff – saving this from the bin and delivering it to charities and communities across the country.

The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield ran similar small-scale projects with their respective funding.


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