A skip loaded with food waste was today (27 November) parked in front of the UK’s two largest retail headquarters as part of a campaign to highlight food waste.
The stunt, which took place outside Tesco’s Cheshunt headquarters and Sainsbury’s central London base, also saw campaigners dressed as fruit and veg using megaphones and banners to urge the companies to tackle food waste in their supply chains.
A petition with over 190,000 signatures was presented to both supermarkets, while organisers of the Stop the Rot campaign requested a meeting to disuss their proposals. The petition has been signed by members of the public asking for the retailers to better tackle food waste in supply chains.
Tesco's head of CSR met the campaigners to accept the petition, and agreed to meet for a formal meeting next week. However, Sainsbury's security personnel refused to let the demonstrators into their building and didn't send any senior members of staff to acknowledge the stunt.
Stop the Rot campaigner Martin Bowman said they want more transparency on waste in the supply chain in order to then create waste reduction targets.
The campaign is endorsed by high profile endorsers including food campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who recently took Morrisons to task on his latest series Hugh’s War on Waste, chef Thomasina Myers, Friends of the Earth and chair of the London Food Board Rosie Boycott.
“The cost of UK food waste is currently borne by the environment, our farmers and producers, and by the consumers who pay for food that doesn’t even get to them,” said Fearnley-Whittingstall. “Lifting the lid on food waste in our supply chains, and tackling it, makes sense for everyone. It’s time to Stop the Rot.”
Boycott said she is supporting Stop the Rot's Change.org petition because consumers are currently asked to do the “lion's share” of tackling food waste, but “many businesses waste more in a day than a consumer does in a year”.
“We need greater transparency from supermarkets about the waste in their supply chains, and ambitious commitments to reduce it. With enough public pressure, we can achieve that," she said.
The campaign said seven million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK groceries supply chain before it reaches the consumer, which it claimed is enough to lift all the UK’s hungry out of food poverty.
It wants supermarkets to commit to reducing food waste by at least 30 per cent by 2025, both in their stores and in their suppliers. It also calls on supermarkets and the UK government to fund measurement of farm food waste by 2018, with a view to creating reduction targets.
Friends of the Earth said “The amount of food wasted globally is a travesty. In total, 1.3 billion tonnes of it is binned each year – about a third of all food produced for human consumption.
“This wasted food requires huge quantities of fresh water, labour and land to produce, generating a carbon footprint of over 3 gigatonnes - if it were a country, it would be the 3rd highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. That’s why tackling food waste in the UK's supply chains is vital to ensuring we can feed the world without destroying the planet.”