Our world produces enough food for everyone on the planet. Yet roughly a third of this is lost or wasted every year. This costs $2.6 trillion annually – more than enough to feed all the hungry people in the world four times over!
World Food Day on 16th October 2022 focuses on how we can build a ‘sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food'. This international food day encourages collective action across 150 countries. World Food Day events and activities promote awareness and action for all who suffer from hunger.
Why is wasting food so bad?
‘Food waste' or ‘food wastage' means food that is fit to eat but gets thrown away. It's a waste of money, as well as food, but there's more at stake than our budgets here: there's a huge environmental, social and economic cost.
Why is food waste bad for the environment? Because both the process of food production and the disposal of food in landfill contribute to global warming:
- Food production is one of the most resource-intensive industries. It also causes high emissions of harmful substances. Producing food uses land, energy and water which generates up to 37% of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Food waste that ends up in landfill releases methane – a greenhouse gas which is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, food waste contributes 8 to 10% of total man-made greenhouse gases.
Food waste also incurs a catastrophic worldwide social impact. Even though more we produce more than enough food to feed everyone in the world, up to 828 million people still go hungry. The problem lies with access and availability of food. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of undernourished people grew by 150 million. This disaster has been driven by multiple challenges, including climate change and rising prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict.
According to WRAP, food waste from UK households and businesses amounts to around 9.5 million tonnes. This could make the equivalent of more than 15 billion meals!
With businesses and their customers increasingly concerned about their carbon footprints, we should all be thinking about how to reduce or recycle our food waste.
10 top tips to reduce your food waste
- Keep your fridge at between 0° and 5°C and follow guidelines for keeping food fresher longer.
- Move older food to the front of the fridge so you don't forget about it. Remember FIFO: first in, first out!
- Plan your shopping beforehand. Take a ‘shelfie'– a photo of your fridge and cupboard contents – to remind you what you have at home.
- Use the portion planner at Love Food Hate Waste and only buy as much as you need.
- Batch cook individual meals and freeze them. That way nothing gets wasted.
- You can often eat food after its ‘best before' date if it's been well stored. After the ‘use-by' date has passed, food is not safe to eat anymore.
- Try Kitche, a free app designed to save you money and reduce your food waste.
- Make the most of your food: try ‘compleating' and make sure no edible parts of your food go to waste.
- Buy and use up the ‘ugly' fruit and veg in supermarkets: they're just as nutritious as the rest!
- Use an app designed to reduce food waste from restaurants, cafes and bars. The Too Good To Go app connects customers with outlets to get food that would otherwise be wasted. Olio connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so you can share surplus food.
Why should businesses choose to recycle their food waste?
- All businesses have a duty of care to dispose of waste in the right way, in line with UK laws.
- Food recycling is cheaper than a general waste service. So, you can save money while doing the right thing for the planet.
- If you mix food waste into a sack of recycling, the whole sack could be contaminated and judged unrecyclable. Choosing a designated food caddy where all your banana skins and tea bags go can reduce this risk.
- By choosing to convert your waste food to compost or biogas, you're helping to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. At First Mile, we guarantee that none of your waste goes to landfill by recycling food waste into green energy and fertiliser.
At First Mile, we make food recycling easy for you. We offer daily collections and can provide you with an internal food recycling bin or small caddy.
If you'd like to find out more about how we can help your business, click here.