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Today, sustainability is more important than ever. If we were to continue in the way we operate our world today, by year 2030 we would need two worlds to sustain our lifestyle. As much as there is talk about the emergency of the situation that we are in, current efforts are not enough and the different nations across the world are pressured to take stronger measures.

With a current food waste worth 10.8 billion british Pounds per year, the UK has started to focus sustainability efforts towards the food industry. Some of the industry’s biggest players, including Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks, Tesco, M&S, and Waitrose, have signed a pledge to drastically reduce their food waste by year 2030, in response to the Governments call-to-action. The main effort will go towards cutting the current 20 billion worth of food waste by half. Further efforts planned for these companies include food surplus and waste reportings, as well as excess food redistribution.

Environmental Secretary Michael Grove commented: “I am delighted to see so many UK food businesses commit to game-changing action to cut food waste, and I hope that others follow suit.”

This is indeed a game-changing plan, highlighting necessary improvements along the food supply chain among many other issues. However, the entire extent of the pledge and its conditions remain somewhat opaque. All we know for now is that supermarkets involved in this program are each expected to:

  • “Set an ambitious food waste reduction target, report on progress and prioritise action.”
  • “Embrace a Food Conversation week of action in November 2019 by spearheading activities and engagement with citizens, including the younger generation”, in the aim of raising public awareness.
  • Use “their voice and profile to empower and encourage citizens, including the younger generation.”
  • Change “their habits as an individual to be Food Value Champion at work and at home, buying only what they need and eating what they buy.”

Clearly the pledge is lacking certain specifications. The Government’s Food Surplus and Waste Champion, Ben Elliot, states: “We will be highlighting those who participate and those who do not.”  However, it is unclear as to how one is expected to check whether all terms are being followed through by each business and their stakeholders. For example, there doesn’t seem to be any set measure to check the individual’s efforts towards “buying only what they need and eating what they buy“. Beyond that, no one has mentioned what the consequences are if one of the supermarkets involved fails to comply or meet the terms of the pledge.

It’s one thing for a supermarket to sign, but it’s another thing to actually follow through. Right now, this all just seems too vague. Given the urgency of today’s environmental state, conditions need to be much clearer in order to ensure proper results.

Read more about The Pledge here.


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