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What the Resource and Waste Strategy means for food and drink businesses

The Government published the Resource and Waste Strategy for England on 18 December 2018. Key policies affecting food and drink businesses include the following.

A £15 million pilot fund to help reduce food waste

WRAP has identified 205,000 tonnes of food that could potentially be redistributed and that enough food for about 250 million meals a year is edible and readily available but currently is used as a fuel for energy from waste or animal feed. The scheme will be developed in collaboration with businesses and charities for launch in 2019.

Annual reporting of food surplus and waste by larger food businesses

There will be consultation on the following measures applying to “larger food businesses” (not defined):

  • Annual reporting of food surplus and waste. The Government wants to see businesses of “an appropriate size” (not defined) use data on food waste and WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap (which gives guidance on how businesses can cut waste in their own operations and replicate this with their suppliers and consumers) to set a reduction target and to report their food waste transparently on an annual basis.
  • Legal powers for mandatory food waste targets and surplus food redistribution obligations.

The definition of the appropriate size of a business to be caught by such measures will form part of the consultation.

Environmental permits for food waste storage

In 2019, the Environment Agency will review the rules around permits for food waste storage facilities with a view to supporting further redistribution of surplus food.

Cross sector collaboration through the Courtauld 2025 Commitment

The Government states continued support for the voluntary Courtauld 2025 Commitment, which aims to reduce per capita UK food waste by 20% between 2015 and 2025, and “urges” business to:

  • Identify food waste hotspots across the supply chain and see how they influence each other.
  • Understand barriers to reducing food waste and improving resource efficiency.
  • Agree practicable solutions, within the context of technical or commercial constraints.
  • Develop best practice for industry-wide adoption, and any associated guidance.

Food waste strategies for the hospitality and public sectors

  • There is to be guidance for the hospitality sector and the public sector to support in reducing food waste, including best practice examples.
  • Around a third of hospitality and food service food waste is from catering in schools, hospitals and other public sector institutions. The strategy recognises the Plan for Public Procurement which provides a framework for buying standards for food and catering in the public sector.
  • The Government promises future work with the NHS to support the creation of a new ‘food standard’ for NHS hospital trusts, keeping sustainability and food waste as key priorities.
  • To tackle food waste in schools, WRAP guidance will be developed and widely promoted.

Seeking powers to protect food producers

  • It is estimated that around 2.5 million tonnes a year of food produce, worth around £800 million, is lost in production, in some cases “through unfair contractual practices”. It is proposed to introduce sector-specific statutory codes of contractual conduct to protect producers from exposure to unfair practices such as late changes to product specifications, or order cancellations with insufficient notice for a producer to find an alternative commercial outlet for the produce.
  • A £10 million collaboration fund is to be developed for groups of producers interested in pursuing joint business models, e.g. funding for joint initiatives seeking alternative commercial outlets for non-specification goods, or support to establish short supply chains.

Packaging waste

  • Packaging waste legislation reform and the deposit return system for drinks bottles, which are to be consulted on in 2019, could affect the food and drink manufacturing sector.

For advice on what this Strategy means for you, please contact Ben Sheppard or your usual Walker Morris Food and Drink Group contact.

Organic waste to make compost