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Mayor Pledges to Halve Food Waste

Published: 03/12/2021 By Allan Fuller

Supplying London with food causes more than 15,400 kilotons of CO2 emissions each year, a new report has found.

Research from ReLondon (formerly the London Waste and Recycling Board) and Circle Economy has found that amount is produced each year through the production, transportation, consumption and disposal of food in London. But around 78 per cent of those emissions occur outside of London, with 99 per cent of the capital’s food imported from elsewhere.

Around 6.3 million tonnes of food is produced every year to sustain London, but more than a third of it is lost or wasted, the report also found. Out of 2.3 million tonnes of wasted food per year, 836,000 tonnes of imported food is lost or thrown away before it reaches London. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has committed to a target of cutting food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 and to send no biodegradable waste to landfill by 2026.

To coincide with the launch of the report at the COP26 climate summit on Thursday, Mr Khan will convene a roundtable with representatives from the food sector to discuss ways of cutting emissions and tackling food waste, while City Hall will work with its suppliers and catering contractors to ensure that standards are met. Shirley Rodrigues, London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “At City Hall we’re developing an action plan to reduce food related consumption-based emissions and the Mayor will continue to lead by example by using the purchasing power of the GLA group to reduce consumption-based emissions through our suppliers and catering contractors.”

The report from ReLondon, which is a partnership between the Mayor of London and London boroughs, recommends that food-related emissions could be reduced by up to 31 per cent a year by making better use of food waste and encouraging healthier, more sustainable diets. Alongside the release of the report today, ReLondon will also unveil new projects aimed at tackling waste. Felix’s Kitchen will be a new venture from food waste charity, The Felix Project, that will use surplus food to prepare 1.5 million meals a year from a professional kitchen, while Toast Ale will use surplus bread to create a brewing ingredient for breweries to make use of. 

Wayne Hubbard, CEO of ReLondon, has said that it is “essential” for London to adopt “more circular approaches to food”. He said, “London is already home to a wide range of innovative sustainable practices in the food sector – but now we urgently need to scale and grow those models across the capital and beyond. “This report reveals the amount huge amount of food loss and waste that occurs before food even reaches London. That is why I am delighted that the Mayor is convening organisations across the supply chain to take action; and that we’ll be collaborating on a London action plan to engage industry leaders, boroughs and civil society in accelerating a low carbon future for food.