Love food, hate waste

savewaste

Tonnes of food are wasted around the globe every single day. ‘Surplus’ food in our kitchens, shops and restaurants or food that is passing its expiry date on a given day is stuck in dumpsters and then usually just deposited at landfils. According to a new policy brief issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Stockholm International Water Institute and the International Water Management Institute, huge amounts of food — close to half of all food produced worldwide — are wasted after production. To widen the perspective, this also means tonnes of water and other resources that were needed to raise the food – wasted.

There seems to be plenty of positive debate about cutting back on eating meat and junk food for both health and environmental reasons, but neither the media or the society seems to be concerned with just how much of what we buy we end up wasting. According to WRAP, 6.7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year,  or, to put it another way, around a third of all the food we buy end up being thrown away, and most of it could have been eaten. Britons waste an average of £10 bn a year, according to a Guardian study carried out in May 2008:

About £6bn of the wasted annual food budget is food that is bought but never touched – including 13m unopened yoghurt pots, 5,500 chickens and 440,000 ready meals dumped in home rubbish bins each day. The rest is food prepared or cooked for meals but never eaten because people have misjudged how much was needed and don’t eat the leftovers.

The complete £10bn consists of food that could have been eaten, not including peeling and bones, the researchers say. Tackling the waste could mean a huge reduction in CO2 emissions, equivalent to taking one in five cars off the road. The figures have been compiled by Wrap, the waste and resources action programme, which previously made the £8bn estimate and has warned we are throwing away a third of the food we buy, enough to fill Wembley stadium with food waste eight times over in a year.

landfill

Love Food Hate Waste provides both information on food wastage and advice on how to be more efficient in our consumption and shopping habits. The huge amounts of food being thrown away have supported freegans and other genres of food skippers. Among the ‘best’ sources of wasted food are supermarkets – surplus foods and those about to go out of date are discarded en masse around the globe. Apart from finding ways of distributing such food to shelters for homeless or food banks, some establishments are seeking to convert their waste into energy. In efforts of becoming more green, Sainsbury’s is set to start turning some of its wasted food into electricity. The program is now starting in Scotland and is set to go UK-wide by summertime. Each tonne of food waste is expected to be able to generate enough power for 500 homes.

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