Food waste: UK's major supermarkets sign up to halve £20bn annual bill by 2030

12 June 2019, 17:29 | Updated: 13 June 2019, 10:27

The UK's major supermarkets have signed a pledge to help halve the country's £20bn annual food waste bill by 2030.

More than 100 businesses and organisations have committed to "ground-breaking action" to reduce food waste, which costs an average household £500 per year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

Around 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink that could have been eaten, ends up being thrown away annually at a cost of £20bn.

Some 1.8 million tonnes of that waste comes from food manufacture, one million from the hospitality industry and 260,000 from retail. The rest, valued at approximately £15bn, is from households.

Sainsbury's spokesperson, Judith Batchelar, said tackling food waste was "an urgent and important priority" and "one of the biggest challenges currently facing today's society".

she said it was "an intrinsic part of our combined response to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change".

On Tuesday, Theresa May said the UK wanted to cut such emissions to "net zero" by 2050.

Stefano Agostini, chief executive at Nestle UK and Ireland, one of the food companies to make the pledge, described it as "a critical issue, from an environmental and social perspective.

"It is crucially important that we work together to help reduce food waste across our own operations, our supply chains and also support consumers to reduce food waste in the home," he said.

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said he wanted those who had signed up to go further by revealing how much food they are wasting.

He called it "crucial for identifying hotspots that require collective action and holding individual companies to account for the commitments they have made".

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Ben Elliott, the government's food surplus and waste champion, who last month urged organisations to tackle food waste, plans to name and shame firms that have not committed.

"To those retailers yet to sign the pledge - why not? You have a responsibility to step up and do your bit. We will be highlighting those who participate and those who do not.

"The food waste crisis can only be solved by collective action," he added.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove welcomed the business' commitment, calling food waste an "environmental and economic scandal".