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Government delays mandatory food waste reporting

Defra has announced that it will not require large food and drink businesses to report their food waste figures until the end of 2026 at the earliest, despite first promising to do so in 2018. Government considers that the current pressures on the cost of living and the need to avoid measures which would drive food price inflation mean that the time isn’t right for new regulations.

Food waste reporting

Government delays mandatory food waste reporting – what you need to know

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a response to its 2022 consultation on food waste reporting for food companies. In 2022, Government announced the launch of a consultation on improved food waste reporting by large food businesses in England. The consultation sought views and evidence on the preferred option for improving food waste reporting, the size and type of business that should be in scope, the material in scope, the reporting process and the compliance and enforcement of any new regulations.

Despite finding that 99% of consultation respondents (80% when removing campaign responses) were in support of a regulatory approach to food waste reporting for large food businesses, Government said it will not take forward the proposal. It said that, although any action to reduce food waste would bring financial savings to businesses, it had decided that a “regulatory approach is not suitable at this time, especially when any additional costs may be passed on to consumers“.

Instead of mandatory reporting, Defra has said it is considering options to incentivise businesses through a voluntary approach to reduce the amount of food waste in their operations and to increase the number of businesses reporting food waste.

The food and environment campaign group Feedback have now launched judicial review proceedings against Defra’s decision not to introduce mandatory food waste reporting. Lawyers acting on behalf of Feedback have sent a pre-action protocol letter to the environment secretary, signalling the start of the judicial review process. According to a statement from the campaign group, the “legality of the consultation is being challenged on grounds that the government’s decision is not based on a reasonable or rational view of the evidence it received“.

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Explore more updates for food and drink businesses in this edition of our Food & Drink Update.