Defra pushes back food waste reporting mandate

The UK Government has announced that large food and drink companies will not be obligated to report their food waste until at least 2026. Although a mandate was initially promised in 2018, the deadline has now been pushed back.

Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has recently confirmed a delay in its 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy update. This delay is due to the impact of Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, which have caused delays in several consultations on critical parts of the strategy.

Industry bodies in the food and drink sector have been pushing for answers since consultations closed a year ago on mandatory food waste reporting for large UK businesses.

Despite 80% of respondents in a government consultation favouring a mandate, Defra has decided to make food waste reporting mandatory at the end of 2026 at the earliest.

Defra has reported that numerous businesses have joined Wrap’s food waste reduction roadmap, which involves yearly reporting and teamwork to minimise waste.

Retailers have successfully decreased waste by eight per cent since 2018, while manufacturers and producers have achieved a 1.4 per cent reduction.

Additionally, Defra has highlighted that food redistribution has become more prevalent during the pandemic and ensuing cost-of-living challenges. Defra estimates show that redistribution rates have tripled since 2018.

Jamie Crummie, co-founder of Too Good to Go, has urged the Government to reconsider its decision, stating that it is a setback to the country’s efforts to reduce food waste.

He believes this decision could worsen the environmental crisis and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for 10% of all emissions.

Crummie compared the decision to the recent proposal by the European Commission to introduce legally binding food waste reduction targets and found it disheartening and regressive. He is concerned that the need for more urgency on this issue could threaten our ability to achieve the ambitious environmental goals for 2030 and 2050.

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