Tax breaks should be introduced to ensure edible food is given to food banks, rather than being treated by anaerobic digestion according to a House of Lords committee.
The House of Lords EU Committee has called for urgent action across Europe to tackle the at least 90 million tonnes of food wasted across the EU each year.
It says 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK alone each year at a financial cost of £5 billion.
The committee has found that efforts across the EU to reduce food waste are fragmented and untargeted and calls on the European Commission to publish a five-year strategy on food waste prevention.
Peers on the committee have also called on the governments to encourage retailers to redistribute unsold food that is safe for human and animal consumption rather than anaerobic digestion.
To do this, VAT rates could be amended and tax breaks offered to encourage supermarkets to donate edible unsold food to food banks rather than sending it to be composted.
This would form part of a refocusing of EU policy in this area away from a waste hierarchy to a food use hierarchy.
The committee also called on supermarkets to move away from buy one get one free offers on certain types of produce to avoid waste in the home.
Chair of the sub-committee that investigated this issue Baroness Scott of Needham Market said: “Food waste in the EU and the UK is clearly a huge issue. Not only is it morally repugnant, but it has serious economic and environmental implications. The fact that 90 million tonnes of food is wasted across the EU each year shows the extent of the problem and explains why we are calling for urgent action…
“…The UK government has a role to play in encouraging cooperation throughout the supply chain. It can also consider whether tax incentives might be used to encourage retailers to ensure unsold food that is still fit for human consumption is actually eaten by people, for example by working with food banks, rather than sent to compost or for energy recovery, or even landfill, as is often the case at present.”