Thanks to campaigns like Love Food, Hate Waste, food waste is an issue that plenty of us are aware of and feel we understand.
But behind the household waste headlines what does the detail tell us about food waste and its causes?
Of the 15 million tonnes of annual food waste in the UK, households account for almost half. Of this, more than half is food and drink that could have been eaten. That waste is especially significant as it also accounts for 4 per cent of the UK's total water footprint.
Food recovery hierarchy
So where does the other 8 million tonnes of waste comes from? The food recovery hierarchy paints the picture for us, with prevention – ie. don't grow unwanted crops – at the top of the inverted triangle that tracks how to reduce waste, followed by feeding people, then animals, and then recovery of waste for soil enrichment and renewable energy. Anything left after that unfortunately reaches landfill.
So to reduce huge amounts of waste, cooperation throughout the supply and value chain is one challenge.
Farmers, supermarkets, other food retailers and food redistribution networks – all can play a part in cutting the waste in parts of the value chain if they work together and work smarter. How? Here are three ways:
- through better cooperation between growing cooperatives and supermarkets to manage what gets grown
- through clever supply-and-demand matching among independents – as seen through sites like foodtrade.com
- through food-waste cafe initiatives like the Real Junk Food Project (which recently opened an outlet in our own home city of Bristol).
Managing food waste
That then leaves us with the question of how best the food manufacturers can manage food waste (and other waste streams while they are at it).
The industry's public commitment to cutting waste-going-to-landfill to zero by 2015 – and the way the statistics appear to point to things heading in the right direction – suggest that much is being done. But there is always more to work at for individual producers (and toolkits like this to help and inspire).
The next stage of cooperation could be to form working groups by geography to share best practice and to access the best waste-processing resources at the best price. It makes sense for lots of reasons and it's an idea we are already starting to explore.
Steve established Ecosurety in 2003 in response to the lack of flexibility, innovation and customer-focus in the compliance scheme market. He took inspiration from the mobile phone market, which continues to provide a diverse range of pick-and-mix options for the customer, and built the original business on a commitment to provide flexible, friendly and tailored support for all clients.
He is passionate about bringing the latest business concepts from other markets and industries and applying them to the environmental sector for the benefit of clients.
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