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Food & Packaging

Mark Var ney / Fo o d Waste / Fare Share

Reducing Food Waste Mar k Var ney

Director of Food, FareShare

There is mounting evidence to suggest reducing food waste will be critical to meeting the world's growing food needs. Currently, between 30% and 50% or 1.2-2 billion tonnes of food produced around the world end up as waste each year. The recent Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future, revealed that although there are challenges, it is possible to close the food gap in a sustainable way, including reducing excessive consumption by minimising food waste. It’s important to acknowledge this is a shared problem, and one that both the food industry and consumers need to solve together. A recent WRAP report, Estimates of waste in the food and drink supply chain, shows 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food industry in the UK, before it even reaches people’s shopping baskets. At FareShare, we estimate approximately 10% of this is surplus and fit for human consumption. This is enough food for an incredible 800 million meals. Additional data from WRAP shows the average UK family is wasting nearly £60 a month by throwing away almost an entire meal a day, adding up to 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year that could have been consumed. Last year FareShare received 4,200 tonnes of food, enough for 10 million meals. We redistributed this food, that would have otherwise gone to waste, to more than 1,000 charities helping to feed 51,000 vulnerable people every day. At the same time we saved businesses 1,850 tonnes of CO2 emissions

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but we are still only scratching the surface in terms of what we can do. We estimate that we currently handle 1% of the surplus food available in the UK. There are developments. WRAP recently chaired an Industry Working Group on food redistribution, exploring how the food industry can increase the amount of surpluses redistributed. Initiatives such as these have put food redistribution on the agenda but we need them to deliver. At FareShare we have the ability to look right across the supply chain. Recently the front end of the supply chain, the retailers, have recognised the role they play in influencing the whole supply chain. We are now seeing considerable benefit and are accessing increasing amounts of surplus food, particularly through our partnerships with Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Within their own operations, all of the big three retailers have taken substantial steps to ensure surpluses are redistributed rather than thrown away. Tesco have recently committed to divert all their surplus fresh food from their distribution centres and online grocery centres to FareShare, more than 2,300 tonnes, enough for 7 million meals each year. Likewise, Asda announced earlier this year that they will redistribute their surplus food to FareShare, more than 1,500 tonnes, enough food for 3.6 million meals a year. We continue to collaborate with long term partner Sainsbury’s who have had similar initiatives in place for many years and have diverted enough food to FareShare for more than 10 million meals in that period.

Environment Industry Magazine - Issue 29  

UK's Leading Business to Business Environmental Publication

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