The Food Waste Bill was not debated on 29 January and has now been re-listed for 4 March. However, it is low down on the order paper for that day and, unfortunately, is unlikely to be debated.
I agree it is a scandal that around a third of all food produced is wasted. It is also the case that this puts pressure on scarce land and resources, contributes to deforestation and adds to global greenhouse gas emissions. It also feels immoral that good food is thrown away, while people are queuing at food banks and going to bed hungry.
It is clear that we need urgent action to tackle the scandal of wasted food. However, while consumers have reduced their food waste by over 20% since 2007, over half of all food waste occurs before we even buy it.
The importance of food waste was recognised by the last Labour Government, which established the Waste and Resources Action Programme. The Labour Government also addressed this issue as part of a wider strategy for food sustainability and security, Food 2030. This vision clearly set out the actions needed to reduce food waste in the supply chain and at home, and the need to redistribute food to vulnerable people, which has become more urgent given the rapid rise in the use of food banks in the UK over the past five years.
However, during the last Parliament, the Coalition Government shelved Food 2030 and cut WRAP funding by £10 million. Without a long-term strategy for making our system of food and farming more sustainable, I believe that current Government policy is characterised by fragmentation and a failure to address some of the very serious challenges facing us, from reducing dependency on food banks to the growth of diet-related ill health.
If the food industry cannot voluntarily drive the change we need, I believe that government intervention is necessary. The Food Waste (Reduction) Bill would commit us to the UN goal of halving food waste by 2030, set out a clear path for reducing food waste and ensure good surplus food is donated to charities.
I fully support this Bill, which was brought forward by the Shadow Environment Secretary, and am disappointed it now looks unlikely to make further progress. However, my Shadow Frontbench colleagues are doing all they can to press the Government to take stronger and more ambitious action to address food waste.
I can assure you I will continue to follow this issue closely and press the Government to do more to tackle food waste throughout the supply chain.