News Sustainability

Government appoints the first food waste champion

The Government has appointed the first Food Surplus and Waste Champion to help reduce  unnecessary food waste.

Ben Elliot has been chosen to drive forward the recently-published Resources and Waste Strategy in England.

The co-founder of lifestyle group Quintessentially and chair of the Quintessentially Foundation has been tasked with setting an ambitious direction to cut food waste from all sources, to help drive down unnecessary food waste in the UK which totals 10.2 million tonnes per year.

The appointment is a key commitment of government’s Resources and Waste Strategy launched earlier this month, and will support the commitment set out in the Strategy and 25 Year Environment Plan to work towards eliminating food waste to landfill by 2030.

Mr Elliot will work with businesses and other stakeholders from across retail, food manufacture, hospitality and food services, motivating businesses to tackle food waste from farm to fork.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Food waste is an economic, environmental and moral scandal. We must end it.

“That’s why I am delighted Ben Elliot is taking up this position and know he will bring the enthusiasm and skills this important role needs.

“His first task will be to help ensure our £15m food waste fund redistributes surplus food that would otherwise be wasted to those most in need.

“Ben and the Quintessentially Foundation’s most recent partnership has been with The Felix Project, the charity combatting the issue of food waste and food poverty in London. Together they have pioneered a government-backed initiative to divert up to £1 billion of surplus food to those in need.”

Ben Elliot said: “Whilst families all over the country struggle to put food on the table and children still go to school each day with empty stomachs, there continues to be an unforgivable amount of food waste which is both morally deplorable and largely avoidable.

“As a nation, we need to stop this excessive waste and ensure that surplus food finds its way to people in our society who need it most, and not let it get thrown away and go to landfill.

“The progress that we have made at the Felix Project has had a positive impact on thousands of people’s lives in London and I am extremely grateful to all of those involved in the food sector that have been so supportive.

“My new appointment will allow me to work with DEFRA and food retailers all over the country to help build out a nationwide strategy that will ensure surplus food is not wasted at the expense of those in our society that truly need it.”

The government plans to introduce the annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses and set mandatory targets for food waste prevention should progress be insufficient.

The role will be voluntary for one year, and the responsibilities will include:

  • Supporting and championing the implementation of the food waste prevention policies outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy.
  • Encouraging actors in the food sector to work together to generate ideas and workable solutions on food surplus and waste issues.
  • Advising Defra on proposals for the distribution of the £15 million food waste fund
  • Motivating business leaders to tackle food waste from farm to fork, including through support for the delivery of the Courtauld Commitment 2025.