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Food Waste in 2021 - We all Have a Part to Play

The growing, production, processing and transportation of food are all contributing factors to our climate emergency. With rising C02 levels, the impact food waste rotting in landfill has on this should be something we all act on.

It’s no secret that food waste is a huge problem, globally. In a recent news article, WRAP Global had been awarded funding to support the reduction of food waste in Mexico where it has been reported that Mexico’s food waste is at 35% of what is produced.

This is a huge waste and it’s not just there it’s happening, bring things a little closer to home and about a third of our food in the UK is wasted too. On average, UK household waste around £700 worth of food a year.

Bringing food waste back to a more local level, there are several things that can be done to reduce it both at household level and commercially.

What can we all do to reduce our household food waste?

Consider whether you need to repeat buying the same food by checking your fridge and cupboards before you shop.

  • Buy locally and more frequently, this is a good way to support your local independent shops and making sure you always have fresh food in your fridge.
  • Use all your food – there are some great recipes online, so get creative with your leftovers.
  • Freeze food – why not batch cook using something that’s on its way out of date and freeze the additional portions. Freeze the bread you won’t use immediately, freeze milk and did you know you can even freeze eggs?

By making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of food waste your household produces will go a long way toward cutting CO2 emissions. Check your local authority website to see whether they have a food waste recycling service, this is another great way of reducing the food waste that ends up in landfill.

What can commercial businesses do to reduce their food waste?

In a study conducted by WRAP in 2015 it was estimated that the food and hospitality sector generated over 8 million meals every year, but that over 2.8 million tonnes of food and packaging waste is generated as a result.

Every stage of the food production process has an associated cost and the further down the production line this food waste gets, the greater the cost. In addition to the environmental impact this has, money and time is also wasted.

Working with a food waste recycling partner ensures that any food waste as part of the production or distribution process is economically, sustainably and environmentally recycled. This food waste is sustainably transformed into green energy in the form of biogas and electricity through the process of anaerobic digestion.

Are there other options?

In short, there are lots of other options to ensure that food waste is reused and redistributed before it becomes landfill or enters the anaerobic digestion process.

Lots of supermarkets now are working with local food banks to redistribute food that would otherwise be left to go out of date or sent into the waste process without being used.

In 2019 leading supermarket chains signed a pledge to commit to halving food waste by 2030, this approach is driven by Government pressure. At this time, WRAP estimated that there is still about 100,000 tonnes of food waste that could be redistributed and reused for those that are most in need.

Legislation will continue to improve this situation as will continued awareness of this situation, as an example, supermarkets in France can now be fined for not giving away unsold food.

There are many schemes in place currently whereby supermarkets donate food, still within its use by or best before date, to local food banks and charities, but this means that there is a relatively short window in which these charities can redistribute the food they’re given.

In addition to these methods, new innovative ideas are popping up encouraging people to reuse and redistribute food in different ways. The ‘Oddbox’ system allows people to buy ‘wonky’ veg at a reduced price that supermarkets give away and there are also several apps which allow people to collect unwanted, in date, food items and redistribute them to those in need in local communities.

Measuring and reporting food waste will in short, help keep food waste at the forefront of businesses minds. “Visibility provides an incentive for change” - WRAP. It is important that businesses target, measure and act on the food waste that they produce and working with approved and regulated waste recycling partners goes a long way in helping them reduce and recycle in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

How do we help?

Demand for food banks during the pandemic soared and organisations such as the Trussell Trust who we support, through donations and fundraising, talked of sending out 6 food parcels every minute during the winter months. That’s a very difficult statistic to get your head around, particularly today.

We know that as a business, we can have a positive impact on the environment by the very nature of what we do, but we feel strongly as a business that it is important to support those people who rely on food banks, for whatever reason.

Throughout last year and for the foreseeable future we have and will continue to support food banks local to our businesses through donations and financial support where possible. The teams at food banks up and down the country continue to do an amazing job of supporting people less fortunate than some of us and we’re proud to play a small role in providing help to those who need it particularly at such a difficult time.

If you’d like to know more about how we could help your business with the recycling of its food waste get in touch with our team today.

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