On 25th January, Denis Naughten, Minister for Department of Communications Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) hosted the Retail Action Group as they signed the Food Waste Charter which commits them to a common and long-term approach to tackling food waste in the sector.
Leaders from five major Irish retailers Tesco Ireland (Mr. Andrew Yaxley), Musgrave (Mr. Chris Martin), ALDI Ireland (Mr. Giles Hurley Group MD), Lidl Ireland (Mr. J.P. Scally) and BWG Group (Leo Crawford) have agreed to make food waste prevention a priority and build awareness of the issue. The companies have agreed a common methodology for the collection of food waste data within their businesses. This will provide a solid evidence base for prevention measures and monitoring progress in implementing change.
Minister Denis Naughten said: “I believe Ireland can be a world leader in tackling food waste and I would like the retail sector to be part of this. I established the Food Waste Action Group in the retail sector last year because the average family throws away €700 worth of food every year in Ireland and half of this discarded food is unused or still in its wrapper. Today is another major step on the road to a more collaborative approach to the prevention of food waste. In signing up to the Food Waste Charter retailers are showing a willingness to work collectively for the greater good of society by promoting, prioritising and planning for the prevention of food waste in a more collaborative way.”
The Minister has been very pleased with the progress that the group has made to date and hopes that this development encourages other businesses to sign up to the Food Waste Charter. The Minister added: “The more businesses that are involved in this type of combined approach the more we can capitalise on the benefits of working together to reduce waste, protect the environment, and save money. Retailers have a unique reach into our communities. The messages they send to farmers, to suppliers and to customers have real impact. They have made themselves indispensable in our modern busy lives but their purchasing power and marketing power brings responsibility too.”
Commenting on the event, Mr. Eamonn Quinn Chair of the Retail Action Group welcomed the commitment by retailers to the Food Waste Charter and said “Irish food retailing is a hyper-competitive sector, so it is important to recognise the significance of these retailers working together. I would encourage all Irish retailers and other food businesses to sign the Charter and learn how they too can join the fight against food waste”.
This initiative also forms part of Ireland’s efforts towards meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production. This Charter is an example of how we can work together with businesses to achieve the SDG target of halving per capita food waste by 2030.
While the Food Waste Charter is focussed on the business response to food waste, the retailers were also keen to support this week’s consumer focused, Stop Food Waste campaign by the EPA.
Ms. Laura Burke Director General of the EPA was in attendance at the signing of the Charter and noted that “To become sustainable we need to change the way that we act. Working together to reduce food waste demonstrates a willingness to embrace this change. The EPA is committed to providing leadership and support towards reducing food waste. This includes our well-regarded Stop Food Waste programme which has been running the “Food, Make the Most of It “campaign this week. The campaign is raising awareness about the common foods that people throw away and the good habits people can adopt to reduce food waste in their homes.”
Welcoming the announcement, Iseult Ward, leading food waste expert and CEO of FoodCloud, said, “FoodCloud has been an active member of the Retail Action Group, advising in the area of measurement methodologies since its establishment, and therefore, we welcome today’s announcement. As recommended by the Citizen’s Assembly, measurement will allow us to make smart decisions about how to reduce food waste and take meaningful action. Sustainable development goal 12.3 challenges nations including Ireland to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 and the Food Waste Charter will help us to formally identify the key areas where change is needed, and crucially, to make those changes. We look forward to continuing our work with the retailers involved today.”