The Institution of Mechanical Engineers recently reported that 30-50% of annually produced food ends up as waste.
Lots of pioneering organisations in the UK are looking at reducing food waste, including The Gleaning Network which addresses food waste on farms.
The Gleaning Network coordinates local volunteers, growers and food redistribution charities to harvest unwanted fruit and vegetables and transport them to those who need them.
To date, five pilot projects have already salvaged several tonnes of apples, cabbages, spring greens and strawberries on farms in Kent and Sussex which were used to make thousands of meals for the vulnerable.
Tristram Stuart, founder of The Gleaning Network, said: “Amazingly, there has been no systematic study of food waste at the farm level either in the UK or elsewhere in Europe or America. In my experience, its normal practice for farmers to assume that 20% to 40% of their fruit and vegetable crops won’t get to market [because they are misshapen or the wrong size], even if they are perfectly fit for human consumption.”
The Government needs to tackle food waste. In a food debate on February 12 in the House of Lords former Environment Secretary John Gummer urged the Coalition to consider banning food waste from landfills.
Gummer argued that banning food waste from landfills would boost the country’s food waste recycling infrastructure.
Conservative Peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington asked the Government what plans were in place to encourage a reduction of food waste.
Lord de Mauley responded that the government is working with retailers, manufacturers and the hospitality sector to reduce food waste through the voluntary agreement launched by the 2012 Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
But when asked if the Government would consider banning food going to landfill sites, Lord de Mauley said a better understanding of the food waste treatment infrastructure and the various costs associated needs to be considered.
Mauley commented “We have committed to reviewing the case for restrictions on sending particular materials to landfill over the course of this Parliament, including looking specifically at textiles and biodegradable waste.”
Labour has already revealed that it is considering including a ban on sending food waste to landfill among its policies in its 2015 election manifesto.