It is the first round of funding from the £15m allocated by Michael Gove in 2018

The government has opened up applications to a new fund tackling food waste.

Redistribution organisations can now apply to Defra to receive part of a £5m fund aimed at getting more edible surplus food to charity, the first round of funding to come from the £15m allocated by Michael Gove in 2018.

Currently only 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year, with an estimated further 100,000 tonnes of edible food used to generate waste, power or animal feed.

“It is absolutely right that we end the scandal of food waste and this substantial funding will help that happen,” said environment minister Thérèse Coffey. “We want to build on the great work already being done by businesses, charities and volunteers. Perfectly good food should be on people’s plates and not unnecessarily discarded.”

Read more: Gove names first government ‘food waste champion’

The fund is open to organisations that receive surplus food to redistribute to those who have a need in England. Applicants will need to show how they will help food businesses reduce their surplus in the long term.

The news follows the appointment of the UK’s first food waste champion last week. Businessman Ben Elliot was appointed as ‘Food Surplus and Waste Champion’ and tasked with driving down food waste from all sources. “Today’s announcement is an exciting step which will turbocharge efforts to reduce the frankly unforgivable amount of food which goes to waste,” said Elliot of the fund. “My role is all about championing this crucial issue and I’m convinced the significant amount of money the government has made available will really help to amplify the good work which food redistribution companies do in this country.”

Organisations can apply for funds here. Applications close on 20 February.