In partnership with Unilever, we have been seeking views on what government could do to help households cut food waste. We surveyed over 200 food businesses and conducted public polling with 2,000 people. Results were taken to the Conservative and Labour Party conferences at fringe meetings.

What businesses think

The overwhelming message from business was that cutting food waste requires change in the entire food system and that the burden of responsibility cannot be placed exclusively in the hands of citizens. Government needs to step up to the plate and play an active role in creating a ‘social contract’ between government, business and households building a coherent approach to reducing food waste.

Strong national messaging is required making it crystal clear that avoiding food waste in the first instance has to be the priority ahead of responsible disposal. There was widespread agreement that we need a consistent nationwide food waste infrastructure that supports all households with the collection of food waste.

There was agreement that more needs to be done to create an informed, educated and engaged public. Government should back national campaigns such as Love Food Hate Waste and integrate food waste prevention into the cooking and nutrition school curriculum.

What people think

Our public polling discovered that the public broadly supports the views of businesses. A strong majority (84%) believe that access to recycling facilities should be the same across the whole country, 67% think ways to reduce waste should be added to the national curriculum and more than half (57%) said they would recycle more if there was a consistent national communications campaign.

How did Government respond?

The results of the consultations provoked a lively debate at the Conservative fringe meeting. Minister Rory Stewart acknowledged that the existing recycling system is too complicated, overly expensive and in need of simplification. He committed to providing support to ‘get this sorted’ over the next five years, but stressed that change needs to be driven by a wide collaboration of organisations all aiming for the same end point of a simpler more robust recycling infrastructure.

Hubbub and Unilever are highly encouraged by the Minister’s response and are currently discussing how best to respond to the challenge he set.