Waitrose welcomes Defra’s decision to reconsider mandatory food waste rules

Upmarket supermarket Waitrose “welcomes” department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra)’s decision to reconsider introducing mandatory food waste rules.

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “It’s not just the right thing to do morally; cutting food waste can have a really positive environmental impact – so it’s a win-win situation.”

The comments come after Defra announced environment secretary Steve Barclay will “reconsider” whether food waste reporting should be mandatory.

“We welcome this news as a necessary first step to tackling an important issue. With the rising cost of living, it’s more important than ever that food actually reaches the nation’s tables,” said the Waitrose spokesperson.

“Everyone has a role to play and, at Waitrose, we’re working with our farmers and suppliers to minimise waste in the supply chain. We continue to publish our food waste figures and have committed to halve food waste in our own operations by 2030, we’ve extended this to our supply chain too. We’ve also got strict policies in place to help give unsold food to charities.

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The initial decision to ditch mandatory food waste reporting laws was criticised by Tesco, Too Good to Go and a number of other campaigners.

Ex-Defra secretary Michael Gove had initially proposed to establish mandatory food waste reporting rules and was widely backed by the industry for doing so.

However, in July this year, Defra delayed the rules until the end of 2026 the earliest, saying it will work with companies on a voluntary basis instead, despite 80% of nearly 4,000 businesses being in favour of mandatory reporting.

While Feedback executive director Carina Millstone is “delighted” that Barclay has “U-turned” on ex-Defra secretary Thérèse Coffey’s “reckless decision”, she warns that Defra needs to take action.

“We cannot allow Defra to kick action on food waste into the long grass, yet again,” she said.

“The government’s climate and waste experts recommend it, the impact assessment shows it will result in cost savings, and the vast majority of consultation respondents, including the majority of businesses, are in favour.

“The time for delay is over – the government must introduce this popular, effective and no-brainer measure to reduce emissions and tackle the scourge of food waste during the cost-of-living crisis now,” she concluded.

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