Food-waste agency faces further cuts to its funding
Susie Mesure writes interviews, news and features for the Independent on Sunday, Independent and i, and has done for the last ten years or so give or take two lengthy maternity leaves. She is interested in just about any topic, especially anything Scandinavian, food, or consumer-orientated, and used to be the Independent’s Retail Correspondent
Sunday 12 May 2013
The future of the agency charged with tackling Britain's growing food waste is under threat. Funding of Wrap (Waste and Resources Action Programme) is under review. Critics say the move by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) raises questions over its attempt to make Britain a zero-waste economy.
Despite Wrap having already had its budget halved in the past four years to £26m in 2013/14, it now faces further cuts. Andrew George, who chairs the Liberal Democrats' Defra policy committee, said: "If we're moving to a zero-waste to landfill economy, then the Government has to place any policy reviews in that context. If the Government thinks Wrap is ineffective and it wants to deploy its resources more effectively, it needs to say so."
Mary Creagh MP, the shadow Environment Secretary, said: "The Government has sung the praises of Wrap while slashing their funding by nearly half. Defra has failed to show leadership and has nearly trebled the amount of waste it sends to landfill in just two years."
The review follows a clash between Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, and Wrap over council bin collections, which has prompted worries that the squeeze is politically motivated.
Since Wrap started targeting household waste, the amount of food and drink thrown away by families has dropped by 13 per cent, to 7.2 million tons in 2010, from 8.3 million tons in 2007.
A Defra spokesman said: "It is normal good practice for departments to review the role of arm's-length bodies."
Separately, campaigners will this week call on the Government to shift the focus from household to industry waste. The amount of food wasted in the supply chain is a grey area because many businesses do not carry out audits, a report due out on Wednesday by the lobby group This Is Rubbish will argue. It wants to see mandatory food waste audits and more ambitious reduction targets.
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