The London boroughs of Hackney, Hounslow, Lambeth and Newham have signed London’s Food Purchasing Commitment (the Commitment) in a ground-breaking move to reduce the environmental impacts of the food they buy and serve across council services and deliver against their net zero and consumption-based emissions targets.
The Commitment was developed by ReLondon, London borough of Hackney and Sustain, in collaboration with a Working Group of 21 London boroughs, and as part of London Councils’ One World Living programme to reduce the climate impact of London’s food system.
It sets out unified and ambitious targets to ensure that food bought and served across council-controlled services is climate-friendly; that less of it is wasted; and that local and sustainable food producers and growers are championed. It also establishes a reporting framework to measure the emissions and waste reductions resulting from these actions, thereby celebrating London’s progress and inspiring other cities to follow suit.
Launched in March 2023, the Commitment contains a target to reduce per plate carbon emissions by 38% by 2030, aligned with CoolFood. In practice this means shifting towards serving more healthy and sustainable foods: more vegetables, pulses, beans, legumes and other plant-based food; less meat and dairy. The Commitment also contains a target to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 in line with the targets in the Mayor of London’s environment strategy, as well as a voluntary target to purchase more food that has been produced or grown locally and sustainably.
In London, food accounts for almost 10% of the city’s consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions, due to the kinds of food that is eaten, how and where that food is produced, and the amount of it that is wasted. Around 2.3 million tonnes of food is wasted from across London’s food supply chain per year – approximately 67% of which is edible, while just 0.5% is redistributed. Meanwhile, many Londoners are increasingly suffering from food poverty amidst rising food prices and the cost of living crisis, with an estimated 1.5 million adults experiencing low or very low food security. Therefore, ensuring access to healthy, climate-friendly food for London’s communities is ever more urgent.
London’s local authorities are at the forefront of efforts to shift to a low carbon circular food system in London. They have a key role to play by making the food bought and provided across council-controlled council services (including in schools, early years settings, and social services) more sustainable and ensuring it is never wasted.
Rachel Shairp, food lead at ReLondon
The London boroughs of Hackney, Hounslow, Lambeth and Newham are driving the shift towards a low carbon food system in London. As the four founding signatories of London’s Food Purchasing Commitment they are leading by example and illustrating responsibility to their residents and other stakeholders. All of London’s local authorities and large food procurers are invited to sign the commitment, and we look forward to seeing additional commitments to support food system transformation.
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
Eating less meat and more food sourced from the UK is a key way that we can reduce our impact on climate change and live more healthily. This is a key part of our ambitious climate action plan for Hackney and I’m delighted that we’re a founding signatory of this One World Living food commitment, which commits the Council to reducing food related emissions, wasting less and buying more from local, ethical farmers.
Councillor Katherine Dunne, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport
Hounslow’s support of the London Food Purchasing Commitment is another example of the Council’s complete dedication to achieving net zero carbon by 2030. As one of the founding signatories of the Commitment, we’re proud to help pave the way towards more sustainable, circular food systems in London.
The Council is pledging to ensure that food bought across council-controlled services – including schools, social services and early years settings – takes into account any impact on our climate and environment. We’ll work to reduce per plate carbon emissions across the borough, and welcome other local authorities throughout London to join us in creating a capital city where food is sustainably produced, and never wasted.
Councillor Jim Dickson, Lambeth’s joint Cabinet Member for Healthier Communities
We are very pleased to be one of the boroughs leading the way and taking action to improve the food we eat and as well as taking actions on the impact it has on our climate.
Lambeth Council has a strong legacy of working to improve the food system for everyone in the borough by promoting healthier and more sustainable food practices. Our goal is to ensure that all our residents can eat well and make food choices that are best for them, their community and the environment.
The London Food Purchasing Commitment supports our priorities and strategies including the council’s procurement policies, our commitment to the Local Government Declaration on Sugar Reduction and Healthier Food, our Climate Action Plan and the Lambeth Food Poverty and Insecurity Plan.
Councillor Neil Wilson, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Newham Council
Food accounts for one-third of global climate emissions and in Newham an ambitious and strategic approach to food is a large part of our work to build a Fairer Newham and our commitment to action on climate NOW. Juniper, our school meals service, provides 23,000 meals each day, and our Eat For Free programme ensures that every primary school child has access to a school meal every day, and so we recognise that the food we procure is a huge lever we can pull to reduce emissions. The London Food Purchasing Commitment, and the tools this team are delivering, is a fantastic asset to councils across the capital, making the changes we need straightforward to measure and deliver.
The commitment has been designed to set a common minimum level of ambition for London’s local authorities, as well as other large buyers of food in the city. As such, other procurers of food in the city (including academic institutions, venues, workplaces, caterers) are encouraged to join these inaugural four signatories in making this commitment as part of a collective London-wide effort to create a city where food is sustainably produced, healthy and climate-friendly and never wasted. Find out more and sign London’s Food Purchasing Commitment below.