Sodexo has welcomed a House of Lords EU committee report calling for urgent action on food waste in Europe, published on Sunday (6 April).

Among recommendations made by the House of Lords committee in response to EU plans to reduce food waste across member states, was a clear message to not let the complexity of food waste monitoring and definitions delay action.

Giving evidence to the committee in November, Sodexo UK and Ireland head of waste management Claire Atkins-Morris and environmental manager Paul Bracegirdle highlighted the challenges faced by the industry around monitoring and definitions, and advocated the use of standardised guidelines and aspirational targets to encourage food waste reduction.

The Sodexo experts were the only foodservice company representatives to appear before the House of Lords Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy sub-committee, which took evidence from industry leaders and retail bodies over a three-month period. According to the European Commission, the foodservice and hospitality industry accounts for 14 per cent of food waste in the EU.

This week’s report feeds findings and recommendations back to Brussels on draft legislation to reduce food waste by 50 per cent across member states by 2020.

Sodexo is a founding signatory of the UK Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement, which was launched by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) in June 2012 on behalf of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The agreement aims to cut food and packaging waste by five per cent – or approximately 100 million meals – by 2015 and increase the rate of food and packaging waste recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to 70 per cent.

Sodexo also makes a commitment to reducing food waste through its global sustainability strategy the Better Tomorrow Plan.

Sodexo serves over one million meals a day across 2,300 sites in the UK and Ireland, and operates in 80 countries around the world.

Paul Bracegirdle, environmental manager at Sodexo, who gave evidence to the committee, said: “We welcome this report as it takes on board our comments about the importance of standardising how food waste is defined and monitored across the board. Only when everyone in the industry is working to the same guidelines will we get consistency, and achieve a significant, coordinated reduction in food waste, which is central to Sodexo’s global sustainability strategy the Better Tomorrow Plan.

“We fully support the report’s recommendations that the UK Government should work closely with WRAP to ensure food waste prevention measures are maintained.

“We are already engaged with the FUSIONS project at an EU level, and support the report’s recommendations that the project be closely monitored by the European Commission to ensure targets are met.”

Baroness Scott of Neeham Market, chairman of the sub-committee that conducted the inquiry, said: “We cannot allow the complexity of the issues around defining and monitoring food waste to delay action any further. We are calling on the new European Commission, which will be appointed in November this year, to publish a five year strategy for reducing food waste across the EU, and to do so within six months of taking office.”

A streamed video recording of the Sodexo evidence session is available on the Parliament website.

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