Government to u-turn on disastrous food waste decision following legal challenge

22nd Nov 23 by Christina O'Sullivan

We’re delighted the new Secretary of State has u-turned on the reckless decision to scrap plans for mandatory food waste measurement

Last month, we filed for a judicial review of the UK government’s decision to scrap its proposed plans to introduce reporting requirements for businesses to tackle food waste. The decision was taken by the previous Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey. Following the government reshuffle, the new Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay, has now agreed to review that decision, stating that a new decision will be made in the first half of 2024.

The initial decision was taken despite responses to the government’s consultation showing that the majority of businesses in scope were in favour of mandatory reporting, and 99% of respondents overall. We welcome the government reversing the decision but implore them to take quick meaningful action and make food waste reporting mandatory.

“We’re delighted the new Secretary of State has u-turned on his predecessor’s reckless decision to scrap plans to introduce mandatory food waste reporting for big businesses. However, we cannot allow DEFRA to kick action on food waste into the long grass, yet again. All the evidence supports the case for mandatory food waste reporting. The government’s climate and waste experts recommend it, the impact assessment shows it will result in cost savings, and the vast majority of consultation respondents, including the majority of businesses, are in favour. The time for delay is over – the government must introduce this popular, effective and no-brainer measure to reduce emissions and tackle the scourge of food waste during the cost of living crisis now.” Carina Millstone, Executive Director of Feedback

An estimated 10.4 to 13 million tonnes of food are wasted in the UK annually, equivalent to approximately 26-33% of the UK’s 40 million tonnes of food imports per year. A study from the University of Bangor and Feedback found that halving UK food waste would save approximately 0.8 million hectares of cropland domestically and overseas[iii], which Feedback estimated could produce enough potatoes and peas to feed 28% of the UK population their yearly calories.

Food waste is a key climate change issue, generating about 10% of global emissions. The government’s own climate change experts, the Climate Change Committee, advised that mandatory reporting should be introduced by 2022.

“Our clients are delighted that the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs decided to review his predecessor’s decision not to introduce mandatory food waste reporting. His decision must make sense given that all the evidence shows that the costs to the shopper of introducing a mandatory requirement will be massively outweighed by savings which would be achieved by reductions in food waste.” Leigh Day solicitor Ricardo Gama 



What can you do next?

Follow us on Instagram to see our work in action.

Follow us