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Food sector aims to double food redistribution

Some of the country’s largest food and drink firms have committed to doubling the amount of surplus food they redistribute by 2020. A new campaign to improve redistribution in the hospitality and foodservice sector will also be launched this year, as well as a dedicated “redistribution module” to help businesses engage staff on the issue.

The new target is part of the Courtauld Commitment 2025 – an industry-led waste agreement launched in March 2016 that aims to cut food and drink waste in the UK by a fifth by 2025.

WRAP, which leads the initiative, will monitor and report food redistributed at both national and company level; charitable and commercial routes will also be reported separately for the first time. The baseline year will be 2015. If the target is met, 30,000 tonnes of surplus food will be redistributed come the end of the decade – enough to prepare an additional 60 million meals a year, according to WRAP.

C2025 replaced both the Courtauld Commitment followed by many retailers and manufacturers and the Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement on waste (HaFSA).

Redistribution increased under the Courtauld Commitment 3 to 18,000 tonnes by 2015. HaFSA signatories doubled levels to 760 tonnes, the equivalent of 1.5 million meals.

Research by The University Caterers Association and Footprint Intelligence last year showed that caterers are keen to distribute more food to local charities and food banks but remain concerned that they will breach food safety laws.

WRAP is developing materials and insights to “cascade new best practice” to the hospitality and foodservice sector. “A new campaign is being developed for the whole sector, which will be piloted across 10 sites early in 2017,” the organisation confirmed this week.

The final results from the short-lived HaFSA agreement have just been published. These showed that signatories were particularly successful in reducing food and packaging waste, but missed a target to increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste recycled and sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to at least 70%.

In February’s Footprint magazine: To us, 2016 felt like the year redistribution became mainstream. It’s therefore the perfect time to challenge the notion that redistribution enables businesses to simply tick the food waste box and present themselves as good corporate citizens, without doing more to address the structural issues that create food waste in the first place. Watch out for our analysis in next month’s publication.