Householders are being ‘unfairly blamed’ for the UK’s food waste when the industry generates half of the annual 20m tonnes
Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent
Wed 15 May 2013 06.30 BSTFirst published on Wed 15 May 2013 06.30 BST
The food industry should be forced to audit its supply chains regularly to cut down on the amount of food being thrown away, according to waste campaigners.
The group This is Rubbish (TiR) called for more transparency in the system, claiming that householders are being unfairly blamed for the UK’s food waste when the industry generates over half of the 18-20m tonnes food wasted every year. An estimate in January by the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers put the amount of food wasted worldwide each year at up to 2bn tonnes, or half of what is produced.
TiR’s report, Counting What Matters, said there is more support for audits from the industry than previously believed, although there were concerns about who would bear the cost, and about practicalities. Food industry experts and insiders interviewed by the authors mostly cited increased efficiency a the benefit of such audits.Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you
TiR co-director Caitlin Shepherd said: “We know the food industry has a big problem with waste, one that comes with significant environmental, social and economic costs. Despite this, food waste is not widely monitored or reported even among large businesses, meaning the problem stays largely hidden.”
In the UK, the voluntary Courtauld Commitment and Hospitality and Food Service Agreement require signatories to report waste data annually. It is held in confidence by the government’s waste advisory body, Wrap, and aggregated to provide an assessment of how the sector is performing against agreed targets.
British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, said: “Retailers already audit the food waste they’re responsible for. They rely on the independent resource-efficiency body WRAP to co-ordinate industry-wide food waste reduction figures. Let’s not distract from what will win us the greatest gains. That is getting consumers to think harder about what they waste.”