Make businesses report their food waste

This consultation is now closed. Thank you to everyone who filled it in!

Currently, businesses do not have to report how much food they waste. They can waste as much food as they want without being held accountable. But that might soon change!

The government is consulting on new policy that will make food waste reporting mandatory. However, there is still the possibility they will let businesses off the hook by making some parts of it weaker, and not including some of them in scope. It is also very important to include farms in food waste reporting, and to ensure businesses do not just divert their waste to food banks. So it is crucial that people respond to the consultation and make sure the policy is delivered in the best way possible.

See below for a 5-minute guide to filling in the government consultation. You either click an option, fill in a text box, or skip the question. I have suggested ways to fill in a few text boxes in italics which you can copy and paste, but feel free to add your own views too.

The deadline is 5 September 2022. Thank you!

Consultation guide

Click here for the link to the consultation

The page will look like this. The page numbers are at the top left side (I’ve highlighted in red).

Page 1 Scroll to the bottom and click ‘Continue’

Page 2 Fill in Q1-6 as required and click ‘Continue’

Page 3 Scroll to the bottom and click ‘Continue’

Page 4 For Q7, click ‘Option 2’

For Q8, include the following:

Mandatory reporting is a critical step in reducing food waste and this consultation from Defra is extremely welcome.

Option 2 is the only viable way to begin reducing food waste in businesses and the supply chain, however it must be broadened to include medium-sized businesses, plus medium and large farms.

It has never been clearer how reducing food waste will benefit the economy and the environment, and put the UK on the path to achieving its net zero goals. It is time that policy started to drive the changes we need to make this a reality. Time is running out to reach the 2030 target to reduce food waste by 50%.

A voluntary approach will not deliver food waste reductions that we need to see, and is not a viable option. However, alongside mandatory reporting for medium and large businesses and farms, a voluntary approach must be introduced for small businesses and farms.

Then click ‘Continue’

Pages 5, 6 and 7 These pages are irrelevant unless you have a business, so you can skip by scrolling down each page and clicking ‘Continue’

Page 8 For Q15, click ‘Not applicable’ and click ‘Continue’

Page 9 For Q18, click ‘Not applicable’

For Q20, click ‘No’

For Q21, include the following:

Medium-sized businesses must be included within scope. Financial benefits of reporting food waste greatly outweigh costs, and with almost 400,000 tonnes of food waste created by these businesses, it is crucial they are not ignored.

Then click ‘Continue’

Page 10 Click ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the page

Page 11 For Q22, click ‘No’ and include the following in the text box:

Farms must be included within the scope of this policy. According to Feedback, as much as 25% of food waste in the UK occurs on farms. The businesses included within this policy should include medium and large farm businesses. Not only will this help capture much-needed data for farm-level food waste which WRAP sorely lacks, but will help demonstrate what business practices need to change to prevent food waste throughout the supply chain.

Then click ‘Continue’

Page 12 For Q23, click ‘Yes’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 13 For Q24, click ‘Yes’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 14 For Q26, click ‘Yes’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 15 For Q28, click ‘Yes’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 16 For Q30, click ‘Yes’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 17 For Q32, click ‘Neither/mixed’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 18 For Q33, click ‘Neither/mixed’

For Q34, include the following:

Although all food waste and surplus must be recorded, classifying food as either ‘surplus’ or ‘waste’ will have unintended consequences. Businesses may seek to improve their reported food waste figures by classifying food as surplus, so reporting of both should be included, but both recorded as ‘waste’.

Creating a two-tiered reporting system (waste vs surplus) would allow businesses to claim that they have drastically reduced their waste when they have just diverted it, and mask the extent of food overproduction.

Diverting ‘surplus’ food will rely on food banks operating for decades to come, when the government should be trying to mitigate against needing them at all. Essentially this approach relies on the existence of food poverty. The British Medical Journal recently said that ‘“leftover” food for “left behind” people will neither address the underlying cause of a person’s need for charitable food aid nor reduce levels of surplus food’.

Moreover, the consultation document says that excluding food that goes to redistribution from reporting would ‘provide an incentive for businesses to move food up the food and drink waste hierarchy’, but recording ALL types of ‘surplus’ as ‘waste’ will incentivise businesses to tackle the root problem of food waste, which is overproduction and unsustainable business practices.

Then click ‘Continue’

Page 19 Click ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the page

Page 20 For Q36 click ‘Yes’

For Q37 click ‘Not applicable’

For Q38 click ‘No’

For Q39, include the following:

These should include medium businesses and large and medium farms.

For Q40, click ‘Not sure/don’t have an opinion’ and then ‘Continue’

Page 21 Click ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the page

Page 22 For Q44, click ‘No’

For Q45, include the following:

Large and medium post farmgate business should be reporting by Quarter 2 in 2023. Large and medium farms should be by Quarter 2 in 2024.

Then click ‘Continue’

Page 23 Scroll right to the bottom to Q59 and include the following:

Mandatory reporting will result in much better data collection for food waste. This will enhance the evaluation of initiatives that businesses have already started to implement. For instance, some large retailers like Waitrose, M&S and Asda have taken ‘best before’ labels off some produce to reduce waste, and mandatory reporting will show how effective these initiatives will be.

Then click ‘Continue’

Pages 24, 25 and 26 Skip by scrolling down and clicking ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the page

Page 27 You have the option of receiving a PDF of your response here.

That’s it! Thank you so much!

You have just contributed to getting one step closer to real system change for food waste.

The government should respond to the consultation within 8-12 weeks. I will post an update about it as soon as it is published.

Published by foodwastestories

The first food waste magazine.

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