We need to get serious about surplus. Sign our petition today to get more edible surplus food to charity

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Every single day our charities do incredible, unimaginable, wonderful things.

Shelter from the biting cold. A cup of tea to lift us out of the bleakest loneliness. Zero judgement when we’re at rock bottom. They save lives.

They’ve almost certainly helped you, too. And me. And the person sitting across from you. In fact 83% of us have turned to one of the 160,000 registered UK charities in the past year at some point.

And the fact that they manage to be there for all of us on dwindling donations and unpredictable government grants is only more humbling.

Surely then, anything we can do to make their lives easier is worth it?

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the launch of our Waste Not Want Not petition.

Over the past 18 months of our campaign we’ve learned a fantastic amount about the scandalous levels of surplus in the food and drink industry and what needs to be done about it. We’ve cajoled, coaxed and (hopefully) convinced many of you to go further in your quest to cut out waste from the supply chain. We’ve looked at the causes, the consequences and, quite frankly, the excuses. And undoubtedly some of the challenges are huge, complex and even intimidating. But working with FareShare we believe we’ve found one solution so simple and effective it can’t be ignored.

Put simply, if government were to help businesses cover the cost of redistributing their edible surplus food to charity the return for our brilliant third sector could be up to £200m.

Let me break that down. It costs a business up to £150 per tonne to separate out, safely store and transport their edible surplus to charity. In some cases this makes it more expensive to donate food to vulnerable people than chuck it in a gaping hole in the ground. And that’s one reason that only 17,000 tonnes out of the 270,000 tonnes of edible surplus available in the supply chain is currently making its way to charity.

At current rates of redistribution it would cost government only £2.6m to help businesses with this cost. If we’re wrong, and this shift does nothing to persuade hesitant businesses to get involved, then that’s where government funding would stop.

But if we’re right this could incentivise the redistribution of edible surplus exponentially with a small annual investment. At 100,000 tonnes, our own Waste Not Want Not target, it would cost a maximum of £15m per year, and deliver savings to UK charities of up to £200m, a more than 10-fold return on the investment.

Just think what charities could do with that extra cash. How many more homeless people they could offer a bed. How many more pensioners they could offer company. How many more lives they could save.

We’re asking government to give our proposal its full attention. And to consider what it could mean for a sector they’d be lost without.

● If you’re #seriousaboutsurplus too then sign our petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/204156


Readers' comments (1)

  • Disappointed to read there has been a missed opportunity to signpost manufacturers to companies who purchase surplus product and re-distribute them, giving a cost positive solution to surplus. Any reduction in food waste is truly important, but if cost is a barrier to redistribution, should this not be highlighted as an option also?

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