Globally, it is estimated that one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. In Irish households, food waste is costing about €700 each every year. Ireland aims to halve food waste by 2030 in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals and the EU’s circular economy action plan.
In Ireland, we waste nearly 1 million tonnes of food annually. About a third arises in retail and catering, with a somewhat smaller share of waste from consumers, and somewhat larger share from producers. While supermarkets are directly responsible for the disposal of only 2% of food waste, their influence across the supply chain makes them central actors in combating our national food waste problem. Recognising this, my Department and the EPA sought to involve major supermarkets in reducing food waste. Aldi, BWG, Lidl, Musgrave and Tesco have all participated in my Department’s action group on food waste. This has involved signing up to the food waste charter commitments, supporting the EPA’s "Stop food waste" campaign, signing up to the FoodCloud food donation network and collecting and sharing food waste data.
I intend to build on this foundation. I am currently reviewing the data on waste streams and practices at different points in the supply chain and any implications for our current programmes. My aim is to identify initiatives which can reduce food waste in line with agreed targets but also to improve recycling by encouraging increased uptake and use of the brown bin by householders and businesses.
I shall work with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the EPA, producers, retailers, consumers and local authorities to develop an effective strategy to deliver on these new ambitions. Schools are important channels through which attention and improved practices can be promoted.