Food waste in the UK continues to be a big problem and the volume being thrown away is on the rise. We wasted 7.3million tonnes of food in 2015 alone, costing the UK £13bn.
The Independent reports that, of the food that was sent to landfill, an estimated 4.4million tonnes could have been avoided – saving the average UK household £470 and preventing 19m tonnes of greenhouse gases.
With billions of people going hungry and the demand for food to nourish a growing population, it’s important to think about our food consumption and what can be done to cut waste.
Who is responsible for food waste?
Everyone is responsible for controlling food waste – there are no exceptions. Responsibility begins with the farmers and manufacturers and moves on to supermarkets and food establishments; it then passes to consumers of the products and Councils.
As with recycling, better awareness of the importance of reducing food waste, as well as what can and can’t go into the food waste caddy, is needed. Councils can support residents and encourage them to think about their food consumption and waste by ensuring information is readily available.
What can food waste be used for?
The first use that springs to mind is compost, but food waste can be used for far more than that, as our food waste heroes have discovered. Take a look at how these companies are doing their bit to reduce food waste:
Get Wonky is a Cardiff-based natural juice company with a mission to ‘Give Wonky Fruit a Chance’.
Not every apple grows the same – all are not perfectly round with an even colour – naturally-grown fruit and veg can often end up being misshapen; misshapen produce is often rejected by supermarkets as being ‘ugly’ and unsaleable which adds to the food waste issue.
Maciek Kacprzyk and Karina Sudenyte, founders of Get Wonky, wanted to tackle the growing food waste problem by using fruit of all shapes and sizes to make their healthy drinks.
With flavours like Apple and Strawberry, Sweet and Sour Apple, Apple and Beetroot, and Apple and Chokeberry, Get Wonky are giving apples (and other supporting fruits) a new lease of life.
And what’s more, their bottles are made from recycled glass, which gets a thumbs up from us!
For those looking for more of a kick to their drink, try the aptly named Toast ale.
Toast, which was started by Tristram Stuart – who also founded food waste charity, Feedback, – first partnered with Hackney Brewery, to launch a brew made using surplus bread, early last year.
According to their website, the UK wastes around 900,000 tonnes of bread each year – this is about 44% of all bread made here.
The bread that is wasted could actually lift 26million people from hunger and malnutrition, so Toast vow not to use bread that could feed the hungry, but instead focus on utilising what would otherwise be binned.
All profits made from Toast sales go to Feedback which aims to help end food waste. Cheers to that!
Rubies in the Rubble
Rubies in the Rubble was born after founder, Jenny, saw the amount of produce being sent to landfill because it “simply didn’t look right”. She decided to rescue fruit and veggies, and fight food waste with relish, by making … well … relish!
They’re on a mission to “encourage people to waste less, treasure their resources and live more sustainably” one jar at a time!
Rubies in the Rubble work directly with farmers, utilising their surplus produce to make a delicious range of condiments including: Spicy Tomato relish, Pink Onion & Chili relish, London Piccalilli relish, Banana ketchup, Chipotle Ketchup, and Fiery Ketchup.
Snact are Kent-based purveyors of sustainable snacks made from ugly fruit. They take unwanted produce, make it into a smoothie, and then dry it out and turn it into fruit jerky.
They state on their website that “the uncomfortable truth is that Britain has never wasted so much food. In less than an average lifetime, we’ve gone from rationing to throwing out a third of all the food we grow.” So they’re working to reduce this by saving this fruit and turning it into a delicious treat.
In 2016 alone, Snact’s mission to snack and act saved 50 tonnes of produce to make their tasty fruit jerky. And as well as tackling food waste, they’re also tackling packaging waste by making their snack packets home compostable.
Em and Nick’s
Now to move away from food products and onto something a little different – cue Em and Nick’s.
Em and Nick’s upcycle ground coffee from The Coffee Camper (which they also own), and combine it with natural, organic ingredients to make an exfoliating and moisturising body scrub.
Not only are they reducing and reusing by upcycling their ground coffee, but they’re also taking care of the seas by ensuring that no microbeads are used for their product. The scrub is totally cruelty-free.
Em and Nick’s are currently working on more skin care products made from upcycled coffee grounds, so watch this space.
We skip back to healthy drinks with Rejuce – a company that makes fresh, pressed juice from misshapen, ‘ugly’ fruit and veggies.
London-based Rejuce want to stop produce that isn’t good enough for sale from going to landfill. And since 2012, they’ve done just that – saving a whopping 50 tonnes of wonky fruit and veg through juice production and contributing to The Beggar’s Banquet.
You may well have seen their stand at a festival – Rejuce frequent markets, festivals and events to bring their cold drinks to the masses.
ChicP are passionate about the ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy, and so create delicious dips from surplus veg – working to reduce the 40% of British crops which are rejected because of their appearance whilst also promoting healthy eating.
Hummus-loving Hannah McCollum founded the company 5 years ago and has since worked as a private chef, cooking for families all over the UK and Europe. And now Hannah’s sweet and savoury dips are available from the likes of Wholefoods, Selfridge’s and Fortnum’s, as well as from the ChicP website.
Spare Fruit tackle excess fruit by transforming it into sweet and crunchy crisps!
Spare Fruit rescue Kentish apples and pears and air dry them to create their unusual snacks. This method has saved 15 tonnes of apples and pears to date.
All profits from Spare Fruit sales go back into transforming more surplus fruit into tasty snacks, whilst continuing to raise awareness of the magnitude of the food waste problem in the UK.
Encourage residents to recycle food waste with @HOME
All of these companies are doing their bit to minimise the volume of food wasted in the UK, but it’s essential that every single person takes ownership of what they consume and waste – and where any subsequent waste is sent.
Encourage residents to recycle their food waste by educating them on the impact of sending food to landfill, remind them of what can be collected, and when to put out their caddy.
The @HOME app can simplify these communications: when residents click the food caddy in the app, they see a visual list of what they can include. They’ll also receive a reminder to put their food waste out, so they never have to miss a collection.
Take a look at how @HOME can help your Council encourage the recycling of food waste and other materials.