New regulation to curb retail food waste could hamper the many successful voluntary schemes already being run by the convenience sector, the government has been warned.

Responding to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ food waste inquiry, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) insisted there was “no need” for new laws to reduce food waste.

Retailers were already reducing waste pro-actively through food donations or giving food to staff, it said.

According to the ACS’ Voice of Local Shops survey, 20% of retailers currently recycle using a separate food waste bin, 12% consume it or give it to staff, 10% reduce food waste through other initiatives, and 7% donate to a local cause.

The inquiry, which has now closed, asked what more could be done to reduce the 0.2 million tonnes of edible food and drink that the retail industry sends to waste annually, and if there was a need for legislation.

It also questioned what new measures could be implemented by households and the hospitality sector.

In its submission, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Retailers are already recycling their food waste by donating to local food banks or re-purposing the food in store. There is no one size fits all approach for tackling food waste, and regulatory action could in fact hamper future voluntary action from retailers.”

The ACS submission also supported the removal of best before end dates for fruit and vegetables, which it says would enable retailers to display products for longer.

The Committee will be publishing a report on its findings in the next few months.