I have been asked to add my name to Diane Abbott's Early Day Motion 66, Supermarket Disposal of Edible Food. I have been delighted to do so as I believe that we can take some simple but firm steps that will both eliminate food waste and benefit charities and food banks.
In addition, the SNP Scottish Government is doing what it can with the resources and powers it has to tackle poverty and food poverty. We are investing around £296 million from 2013-14 to 2015-16 in anti-poverty measures, including our £1 million Emergency Food Action Plan which helps 26 Emergency Food Projects provide food aid and funds FareShare to redistribute food from retailers to community organisations.
The Scottish Government supports the UK-wide Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement with grocery retailers and brands to reduce food and packaging waste. Retailers and brands who have signed up to the commitment have agreed to the significant redistribution of food that is still edible, as well as sending food that cannot be redistributed for use in animal feed or energy recovery. The Commitment also recognises that the majority of food waste occurs during production and in the home, rather than at point of retail, and commits signatories to take action in the supply chain and support customers in reducing food waste.
Specifically regarding Diane Abbott’s Early Day Motion; Rutherglen and Hamilton West SNP MP Margaret Ferrier amended the motion below with the bolded sentence.
"That this House notes that the UK throws away 15 million tonnes of food and drink every year and that half of this food and drink could have been consumed; further notes that if people stop wasting edible food, the environmental benefit would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road; therefore calls on the Government to introduce legislation to ban supermarkets from throwing away food approaching its best-before dates and instead make it available to charities and food banks; calls on the Government to engage with the Scottish Government on issues of food waste and finally notes that such legislation has been successfully introduced in France and would have significant social and environmental benefits."
On 11th June 2015 during a Westminster Hall debate on Food Wastage Margaret Ferrier MP said,
"Food redistribution has traditionally faced a number of barriers. If we are really serious about tackling the problem that we face, we must work proactively with all the relevant outside organisations to effect change. As has been mentioned, one factor that has deterred businesses from donating food is the risk that they will be held legally liable in case of illness. We must find ways to protect and support those who donate food in good faith. In particular, we must support small businesses, which might otherwise find the implementation of a food waste strategy to be prohibitive. I would like us to legislate to divert food waste from landfill to those who are in need, and to ensure that sending waste to landfill is neither easier nor more economical for retailers."
Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.
Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.
Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.
We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?