What Is Food Waste?
Food waste refers to food that is suitable for human consumption, yet is deliberately discarded. Food waste is a current worldwide epidemic, with environmental, economic and moral imperatives to tack the issue.
Despite numerous efforts to reduce food waste over the years, in the UK alone, as many as 8.4 million families experienced difficulty in putting food on the table in 2015.
Meanwhile, approximately 7.3 million tonnes (equating to £13 billion) worth of food was wasted and sent to landfills. Of this food sent to landfill, 4.4m tonnes were regarded as avoidable, whilst the rest consisted of inconsumable food such as egg shells, bones and fruit peelings.
When food waste ends up in landfills, its decomposition produces a large amount of methane – a greenhouse gas that is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide. Excess amounts of greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation, resulting in an increase in the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere – contributing to global warming and climate change.
What Can Be Done?
Food waste changes have to be made at every stage of the process. In Wales, improvements have been made through the introduction of waste food caddy bins. Homes in Wales have shown to be wasting around 10% less than the national average and one of the reasons for this is due to the separate food waste collection.
By manually separating food waste from other every day waste, people have become more aware of exactly how much food they are throwing away.
Consequently, statistics have shown that food wasted from households in Wales was down by 12% between 2009 and 2015, and is currently now approximately 10% lower than the rest of the UK.
Despite positive results in Wales, there are still significant changes that need to be implemented to further tackle this issue.
What Can I Do?
Here are 6 simple changes you can make to reduce food waste:
- Know the difference between sell by and use by dates!
The use by date on food packaging refers to the safety of the food – that is, food can be eaten (and in some instances, frozen) up until the use by date.
Best before dates refer to the quality of the food. Food is still safe for consumption after this date, although a reduction in quality might occur.
Many people make the mistake of confusing the sell by and use by dates. As a result, a lot of food is wasted when it’s still edible!
- Plan your meals ahead
By creating a shopping list and planning weekly meals, you are only inclined to buy what is necessary for those meals which can help reduce the amount of food wasted at the end of the week.
- Keep on top of what your fridge contains!
By having a clutter-free fridge, you reduce the likelihood of forgetting about food that has been pushed to the back and allowing it to go off. Additionally, by checking what your fridge contains before going to the supermarket reduces the likelihood of you buying something that you already have.
- Freeze it
Using containers and storing left over food is a great way to cut down on food waste, with the advantage of having a meal that you can simply defrost for later in the week!
- Make use of food banks
If you know you’re not going to consume food before it goes off, take it to your local food bank and help feed those that are hungry.
- Make use of apps
There are numerous apps out at the moment that can help you to make changes and reduce your food waste. One example is an app called ‘Handpick’ that helps you to plan meals around the ingredients that are already stored in your cupboards!
GD Environmental provides a local and sustainable solution for your packaged and unpackaged food waste. For more information, call us on 01633 277755.