Food waste is set to move up the political agenda later this week, when MPs will debate a new bill which would force supermarkets and manufacturers to donate surplus foods to charities.
The bill is being brought forward by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy under parliament’s 10-minute rule, which allows MPs to introduce private members’ bills. It will be read this Wednesday (14 March), with a parliamentary launch event to be held on Tuesday.
McCarthy is calling for three legislative changes – she wants to place a legal obligation on large supermarkets and manufacturers to donate surplus food to charity and make food that is unfit for human consumption available for livestock feed. She also wants to create incentives for all other, smaller companies that generate food waste – as well as public bodies – to donate their food. Finally, she is calling for the UK to introduce an equivalent to the US’s Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, under which food banks and food donors who donate surplus food in good faith are exempted from prosecution, for example if the food later turns out to have caused food poisoning.
McCarthy said food waste was a growing environmental concern, with food waste across the EU currently set to increase by 40% by 2020. “By creating a surplus of – uneaten – food, the global food industry is adding pressure on scarce land and resources, contributing to deforestation, needlessly adding to global greenhouse gas emissions and helping to drive up global food prices,” she said.
McCarthy added her proposals were the result of a “brainstorming” meeting with FareShare, Food Cycle, author Tristram Stuart, Sodexo and Tory MP Zac Goldsmith.