New Year, New Challenge, New Focus: Food Waste Sustainability

Published Friday, February 24th, 2017


Spilled Milk
No point crying over it

Happy new year! After a year of many ups and downs, I think it’s safe to say we are all happy 2017 is here and we don’t want a repeat of 2016.. (#keepattenboroughsafe)!

Of course, we have much to boast about and celebrate about with the soft launch of My Local Shelf, assisting & growing our first few dozen food businesses across 2 hemispheres(!!!) and surviving the infamous 1 year startup hump milestone! Just like you, we aren’t planning on slowing down and taking it easy… When you’re on a role you don’t stop, you charge on ahead! However saying that, we should all look at the direction we are moving.

Now that 2017 is here, we have all started to think about “How can I / we improve and build upon our efforts in 2016?”, a mindset I personally feel an entrepreneur should always be doing constantly & consistently. We should take the time to evaluate our previous goals, if / how we met them, how we can improve and add upon them, what are our new goals and future milestones we aim to exceed… I’m guessing most of them revolve around financial and / or sales goals.

Let’s take different perspective and set ourselves a new challenge. One that isn’t measured by dollars or pounds or a universal standard unit value. Lets look at food waste sustainability and ask the following:

How can my product make a valuable impact beyond making sales and add to the sustainable culture that is growing everyday?


What is happening with the food we DON’T eat?

In a world where so much is consumed, so is much also wasted. Needless spending and purchasing of food and products has become reckless and irresponsible of us as a society.
Looking at the latest ‘Estimates of Food Surplus and Waste Arisings in the UK’ report by WRAP, estimates that 10 million tonnes (That’s 10,000,000,000 kilograms…) of food was wasted in 2016 alone, and what is worse, 60% of that could of been avoided. In all, household and manufacturing wastage contributes to almost 90% of that total. There is definitely room for improvement with Food Waste Sustainability.

Right now, only ~50,000 tonnes are being redistributed for charitable & commercial routes and 660,000 tonnes are being used for animal feed. A small drop compared to the 10 million tonnes in total, or another way to look at it only 0.07% of food is re-purposed instead of going to waste in our landfills.

If these numbers don’t shock you or show the level of our needles wastage, let us compare the UK figures to that of the EU.
In the UK we have a population of approximately 65mil people, the EU approx. 680mil (not including the UK).
The UK household & food manufacturing industries, wastage is 8.7mil tonnes per year while food waste in the EU… 46mil tonnes.
To put this in perspective, the average person in the UK throws out 150kg of food per year, and in the EU they throw out 67kg per year.

Well.. What can I do?

I know the solution isn’t an easy one, it would involve taking on the big supermarkets as a focused, determined community to demand that they be more careful with the amount of food they put out to reduce shelf wastage. But change starts with the individual. Aim to be more responsible and not always buy the ‘2 for 1’ or the bulk buy purchases for more when we don’t need it is a start, or simply plan weekly meals if you do buy bulk. The big guys should stop the food beauty pageants and have the 30% of crops that are cast aside because they don’t conform placed on shelves instead of being dismissed, as one way of prevention of food waste.. It isn’t an easy single solution.

Where can I start?

The challenge: what is your individual contribution to the reduction of food wastage?
Explore the options to source your ingredients to help reduce the epidemic of food wastage we have in this country at both the person level as well as the professional level.
Whether it’s taking on examples from ChicP sweet & savoury hummus (using wonky fruit and vegetables instead of the ‘runway approved’ fresh ingredients) or like the guys from Toast Ale (using all the off cuts of loaves of bread that makes sandwiches in Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, etc… Thats a lot of waste!) to brew ales and beers, see where you can tap into a supply chain to reduce THEIR wastage while repurposing those ingredients to help your bottom line. Not just financially but to set an example to others to help tackle this massive issue of food wastage.

Food waste levels won’t change all at once, and it’s not the most important issue we have in society at the moment but it is defineitly an issue we can all tackle together with s small personal impact. By individuals taking the first steps to initiate a responsible and worthy change perhaps we may inspire and change attitudes, even if it’s one person at a time to get ahead of this and not let is become a potentially and needlessly massive issue based upon something we can all easily reduce.

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