16 May, 2019
At a time when non-biodegradable waste such as plastic is making headlines on a daily basis, the immense volume of food waste is often overlooked. Yet it’s a problem of staggering proportions. One third of the world’s food supply is lost or wasted according to the United Nations. And while the world’s wealthiest nations waste food, the world’s poorest struggle to feed themselves. The problem is not only one of equality and humanity, it’s a huge carbon challenge too. If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of green house gas emissions in the world.
Committed to fighting food waste
At Resource Futures, we’ve been working on food waste for some time, whether it’s supporting local authorities campaigning to encourage residents to reduce their food wastage or helping them to set up the right contracts and waste collections to ensure that food waste can be captured for recycling.
A selection of our projects include:
- Establishing a robust waste evidence base for Towards Zero Waste: One Wales, One Planet strategy
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the Feed Me and Win campaign
- Increasing Torbay’s food waste recycling with monster bins
- Engaging Devon residents in food recycling
Combating Bristol’s Food Waste
In Bristol we’re active at a local level, chairing the Bristol Food Waste Action Group as part of the city’s bid to increase its accreditation as a Sustainable Food City. We believe passionately in the power of collaboration, bringing together different elements of society from business, the public sector, community and individuals to make a difference; the sum is most certainly stronger than its constituent parts.
The Food Waste Action Group brings together organisations from across Bristol to take a lead on a number of food waste initiatives, using collaboration to create greater momentum and take advantage of natural tie-ups that are mutually beneficial.
Target: be one of the first UK Gold Sustainable Food Cities
As a collective, the group has the key galvanising mission to achieve gold status for Bristol as a Sustainable Food City, a national wide programme encouraging and recognising the achievements cities are making to transform their food systems and culture for the good of people and planet. Food waste is one of six food related areas earmarked for progress and one of two that must demonstrate ‘excellence’, alongside ‘buying better’ to achieve Gold.
The good news is that Bristol was one of the first three cities to achieve Silver Sustainable Food City status in 2016 so the Gold award feels very much within grasp.
Get behind Going for Gold
Both individuals and organisations can get behind ‘Going for Gold’. It’s a fantastic opportunity to galvanise city-wide action to tackle our most pressing issues: while Bristol’s families waste at least £60 worth of food a month, 25% of Bristol’s children live below the poverty line.
So where do we start?
Firstly it’s recognising that like with other types of waste, it’s useful to consider this in terms of a hierarchy in priority order:
- Reduce food waste
- Redistribute avoidable food waste
- Recycle unavoidable food waste
At present there is emphasis on number three, but we need more attention on one and two.
Avoidable food waste = this is where wasting the food is unnecessary such as where the packaging is damaged but the food is otherwise edible; where the use by dates have passed; surplus of food or over catering with over-sized portions.
Unavoidable food waste = this is food that can’t normally be eaten e.g. meat bones, orange peel, fruit stones.
What can organisations do to support the fight against food waste?
The new Going for Gold website has recently launched with lots of information and resources to help organisations on their food waste fighting journey.
- Register your organisation and start taking actions
- Why not conduct a food waste audit
- Seek out an internal food waste champion
- Create a ‘take less’ culture, minimising waste in meetings and the canteen
- Report your good food actions, sharing with the Bristol network
- Show your support for the campaign through your communications and social channels –encourage customers and employees to sign up too. Use the hashtag #goingforgoldbristol and follow @Bristolfoodnet
Senior Consultant, Sarah Hargreaves, is the co-ordinator for the Food Waste Action Group.
A specialist in communications and behaviour change at Resource Futures, Sarah has a Masters in Environmental Management and a particular interest in food waste. A co-founder of the FoodCycle Hub in Bath and a leading campaigner for food waste recycling since 2012, Sarah has taken food waste campaigns from doorsteps to schools and businesses across all four local authorities in the South West and beyond.