Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Questions (172)

Thomas Pringle


172. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications the way in which he plans to ensure that proposals such as reducing the sale of multi-buy packs or buy-one-get-one-free deals do not disproportionately impact on lower-income households; if an economic impact assessment has been carried out or is planned to be carried out on these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28086/20]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department launched the Waste Plan for a Circular Economy on 4 September 2020. The new plan contains a specific chapter on food waste, which outlines a number of actions to tackle this problem and to reduce Ireland's food waste by 50% by 2030. Ireland currently generates an estimated one million tonnes of food waste per annum, even when agricultural activity is excluded. One of the measures proposed in the food waste chapter is to work with retailers to end the sale of multi-buy packs to prevent over-buying by consumers. The focus here is on "over-buying", where this results in wasted food and an economic cost to the consumer. This issue has been considered in other jurisdictions across the European Union and in the United Kingdom.  The European Commission is proposing to work with relevant organisations to ensure that food price campaigns do not undermine public perception of the value of food (Farm to Fork , 2020).

Early research on this matter was carried out by the UK based Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in their December 2011 report 'Investigation into the possible impact of promotions on food waste'. At a national level, the Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting the first National Food Waste Attitude Survey. Results will become available from October and will provide important insights into consumer behaviours around purchasing, food management in the home, the impacts of Covid 19 on these matters, as well as the understanding of best before and use by dates. Follow up surveys in future years will be used to target additional relevant themes affecting food waste prevention. Most of the major food retailers in Ireland have already signed up to the EPA's Food Waste Charter and have already pledged to reducing food waste in their stores and amongst their customer base.

The priority measure in delivering our ambition around food waste will be the development of a Food Waste Prevention Roadmap. This will involve consultation and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders from both industry and consumer interest groups. All policies deriving from the Action Plan will be carefully calibrated to protect low-income households and applied only where sustainable alternatives are available and affordable.