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How are you dealing with food waste in your business and at home?

By Johanne Kloster, CPH Business Academy

 

A study conducted by the UN in 2011 shows that one third of the world’s food goes to waste!

This has devastating implications for the environment, since rotting food in landfills produces methane, one of the greenhouse gases contributing heavily to global warming.

1 tonne of methane is in fact 25 times worse than 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. Food waste is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions globally[1]. And then there’s the social injustice prevalent in this number as well, considering how many people are actually malnourished and experiencing food insecurity. In the UK alone that adds up to 2.7 million people.

It’s estimated that the UK generates about 10.2 million tonnes of food waste annually.[2] Most of this derives from household waste with an estimate amount of 7.1 mt, followed by the food manufacturing sector (supply chain waste) with 3.1 mt. This is a depressing amount considering the resources being lost and the 8.4 million people in UK struggling to afford essential food[3].

How can we combat this food waste problem? From households and manufacturers to the hospitality and food service sectors- it appears the solutions are to be found at the local community level.

‘Sustainable Food Cities’ is an award that gives credit to cities that do outstanding work to promote sustainable behaviour around food. They define six key issues, and one of them is to reduce waste and the ecological footprint of food systems. Brighton and Hove was the first city to achieve the Sustainable Food Cities Award back in 2015. They’re still going strong. Across the city, sustainable initiatives are reducing and saving food that would otherwise have gone to waste which is happening as we speak.

 

Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is the right place to start. They run the Surplus Food Network which is an alliance of organisations and businesses coming together to tackle the vast amount of food that is not being eaten and they redistribute it to people in need.

FareShare is part of this network. They are an organisation that saves and redistributes surplus food from the food industry, collaborating with over 500 food producers and suppliers. They operate in 22 Regional Centres and reach 1,960 towns and cities across UK according to their own webpage. FareShare Sussex was established by City Gate Community Projects in 2002.

Under the slogan Feed Bellies not Bins, the Real Junk Food Project Brighton (tRJFP), gives their bid to show how to prevent food resources not ending up as waste going to landfills. The RJFP is another organisation which is part of the network.

The RJFP Brighton has 4 locations around the city[4] where they offer community-based lunches on weekdays. Surplus food is collected directly from supermarkets, shops and wholesales and made into delicious dishes. Serve it back to the people!

The Food Waste Collective is also part of the Surplus Food Network. Since 2013 they have been working with retailers, businesses and farms located around Sussex, to redistribute surplus food. From their own figures this amounts to 10 tonnes of food saved. They organise 3 different schemes to get involved: either you can donate your surplus food if you’re a food business; you can volunteer to help collect and redistribute this surplus food; or you can get in touch as a charity or local food project in need of that food. The FWC will match charities up with businesses and volunteers to help each other out. They appeal to business

Businesses that in one way or another end up with surplus food hereby have no excuses to throw away food. Reassuring isn’t it? By collaborating with Brighton and Hove Food Partnership you help to eradicate food waste from landfill.

 

And there’s more good news, the Surplus Food Network is not alone.

 

In our February Newsletter we had OLIO feature as our Member Spotlight. OLIO is a food rescue app where citizens can connect by either accepting or offering spare food that not being consumed. Sounds odd? Not at all, judging from blog stories on the OLIO webpage, people sharing their food seems to be enriching the experience of giving away food that would otherwise have been wasted. Giving is a tremendous value in itself.

As for businesses, all you have to do is sign up to OLIO’s Food Waste Heroes Programme and become a Zero Food Waste business. Rest assured that OLIOs trained volunteers will collect your food and redistribute it through the app. That’s it.

 

With that in mind, OLIO seems to have sparked something of a trend, because they’re not the only app fighting food waste. Too Good To Go was founded in the UK in March 2016, just a year after OLIO. Their take is for businesses to sign up to their app with a few easy steps to sell their surplus food at a reduced price. With well-placed arguments directly encouraging businesses “to cut your waste, reduce your footprint, finding new regulars and turning your loss into income”,[5] it’s hard not to want to get onboard.

 

Food businesses then have to make Magic Bags, with the various food items not being sold that day. App-users make their purchase through the app and come to collect their bag. A win win win situation for customers, businesses, and the planet. Even more so for business, because apparently 3 out of 4 customers buying TGTG Magic Bags will come back as full-paying customers.

TGTG is also teaming up with local charities and non-profits in whichever area they operate. In the case of Brighton, they collaborate with FareShare Sussex.

If you have any doubts and want to know more about the reality of food waste currently happening and being fought around the world, TGTG has set up a highly resourceful Knowledge Hub on their webpage.

Since then, a Swedish born app has arrived in Brighton recently. Karma is the name and like Too Good To Go it offers restaurant, cafes and food retailers generating surplus food to sign up to their app to not let their food go to waste. Same concept, with a slight difference; the app will encourage the user to keep saving food by tracking and keeping score of all your saved items, making you feel good. For businesses the same applies.

Could these apps and organisations dedicated to food rescue help the UK on its way to reach net zero targets? Certainly, it makes wasting our food seem all the more ridiculous.

As of January 2020, the UK government announced a further £1.15 million funding towards food waste prevention. Since 2015, the government has been funding the Courtauld Commitment 2025. This is a voluntary agreement administered by The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to bring together various organisations engaged in the food systems and to build strong partnerships and collaborations around fighting food waste. Targets include a 20% reduction in food and drink waste and 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, against a 2015 baseline[6].

WRAP keeps developing strategies over the 10-year commitment. In 2017, the Courtauld Commitment 2025 established a Surplus Food Redistribution Working Group as part of its actions plans. This is exactly what the Surplus Food Network is all about!

For the UK to achieve Courtauld 2025 and UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 with its trajectory of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030, WRAP launched the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap; a broad, ambitious toolkit to help UK deliver continual annual reductions in food waste.

 

 

 

 

References:

[1] Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations report from 2015, Food wastage footprint and Climate Change

[2] WRAPs (Waste and Resources Action Programme) newest publication from 2018, Courtauld Commitment 2025 baseline for 2015.

[3] UN technical report Voices of the Hungry 2016

[4] Find time and location here.

[5] Too Good To Go webpage, in the menu Businesses, “Selling surplus food just got easy”

[6] WRAPs final report on UK progress against Courtauld 2025 targets and UN SDG 12.3, January 2020

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