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How to combat food wastage in Britain


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Wasting food has been a huge problem for the UK, with the Food Standards Agency estimating around 7.3 million tonnes of food every year being thrown away.

An initiative has been taken by the  East Anglia co-ops to sell food past best-by-date for 10p instead of throwing it away and letting it go to waste. One important piece of information most people don’t realize is the difference between best-by-date and the use-by-date.

When looking at labels, foods labelled with the best-by-dates are still 100% fine to eat, whereas the use-by-date means they are not.  Last week, Wrap, a waste agency, also launch a new initiative to reduce waste by providing clearer and more concise labels for food.

Although these are definitely a step in the right direction, we need to see more done such as donating unused food, innovating new startups and companies that provide creative and sustainable practices, and redefining what is considered "bad" food. 

The selling of food past best-by-date from East Anglia co-ops has many benefits such as the possibility of buying cheaper food and greatly reducing the amount of food they are wasting. They estimate the initiative will keep at least 50,000 items of usable food out of the wastepile every year. The initiative launched and did extremely well, with the 10p items selling out only after hours of use. Hopefully, this will spark similar initiatives in other stores.

Another initiative taken by some is donating food that is past the best-by-date. This not only helps combat hunger for less fortunate people who may not be able to afford food, but it also stops unused food from being wasted and thrown in the trash.

There are already a few brands and stores that practice this, one of them being Starbucks, who estimated that 5 million meals would be saved after the first year of the program.

BBMG also suggest several different ideas to stop wasting food that includes rewarding consumers for how often they visit the store instead of how much food they buy, giving suggestions as to different recipes that could be used based on purchased food, and showing consumers how to store food properly.

These are all ideas that should be more widely used and considered, and one startup is already taking initiative to make these ideas a reality. The startup BagIQ, combines all the food you have purchased and gathers a list of recipes that help users use all the food products. Plus, BBMG suggests that there should be labelled specifying what foods to eat first because of their fast-approaching expiration date, however, this is an idea that has not been taken up by any company or startup.

Another common belief among people who are actively looking for a change in the way we deal with less than perfect food is redefining our view on what is considered “bad”. It is suggested that people should find alternative ways to use foods such as a bruised apple or over-ripened banana. You could possibly make applesauce from the bruised apple, or banana bread and smoothies from overripe bananas. These are just some little everyday things that can help cut back on the amount of food being wasted.

There are a ton of reasons as to why we need to work on being more mindful and less wasteful of our food, including environmental, social, and economic reasons. Environmentally, it is important to drastically reduce the rate of wasted food because it keeps food out of landfills. Economically, it could lower household food bills and cut back disposal costs for restaurants, processors and farmers and other places that regularly deal with food. Socially, it is important to find ways to make sure that people who can’t get and afford food, get the food they need. This saved food can be taken in by emergency food providers that work to eliminate hunger in different areas of the world.

Overall, there are many reasons to cut back on waste, as well as many ways to do so. This includes creating new, innovative ideas to reduce food waste, donating food and selling food that is past best-buy-date, as did the co-ops mentioned earlier. This helps out in several different ways including financially, environmentally, and socially.


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