Government Backed Action Plan to Reduce Food Waste Announced by UK Environment Secretary

Food wastage in the land of plenty that is Britain, has been described by Environment Secretary Michael Gove as “morally indefensible”, as he announced the initiation of a pilot scheme designed to reduce the amount of food that fails to make it to hungry mouths across the country. The scheme, which is benefitting from £15m of government funding, is set to start in 2019 and is a move that’s been made as part of ongoing attempts to reduce the approximate 10 million metric tonnes of food currently being wasted each year in the UK.

This 10 million tonnes of food equates to around 25 billion uneaten meals each year and in a country where more than 8 million people are currently living in food poverty, many see the status quo as being more than slightly perverse. Instead of being consumed by those who need it, this food is typically sent to be turned into animal feed or to plants where energy is created from waste materials.

Bad For Business

Gove also went onto say that “Food going to waste harms our environment and it’s simply bad for business” and he stated that the government will working very closely with volunteers, charities and businesses to create a scheme that gets to the very heart of the issues.

The main focus of the scheme, which has yet to be compiled, will be to address the surplus created by both manufacturing and retail. Over 2 million tonnes of the total wasted comes from these sectors, with 1.8m tonnes coming from food manufacturing alone. The vast majority of food wastage come from domestic households, which is an entirely different and more complicated problem to resolve - the reason why much of the effort is being made in areas that can be more easily influenced.


This newly announced strategy is running alongside DEFRA’s (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Resources and Waste Strategy, the details which are to be announced towards the end of 2018. The basis of the government’s food waste reduction action plan will be formed from investigations planned by DEFRA into the exact reasons why this excess food isn’t finding its way to the needy.

The efforts being made to reduce food wastage in the UK have been applauded by Dr David Moon from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), who sees the announcement as “a great boost for many support networks around the country”.

Good For People - Good For the Environment

The official stance on food wastage is one that is welcomed in many quarters and this latest announcement serves to support the sterling work that goes on, on the ground, by charities and volunteers across the country. Between 2015-2017, the amount of surplus food being redistributed to those who can benefit from it rose by 50%, saving almost £130m worth of produce from being wasted.

The will is most certainly there and whilst it is, there remains a hope that food poverty in the UK might one day be eradicated.