Everything you need to know...
Food waste in general has been an issue throughout the UK for many years, so much so that back in 2005 the first Courtauld Commitment was launch, aimed at tackling waste in the food supply chain.
So, what is retail food waste? Well in the retail industry, food waste refers to unsalable products that need to be discarded or recycled. The amount of retail food waste generated in UK has been highlighted for years now as an issue, and although there has been progress with overall food waste, there has been an increase in retail food waste over the last few years.
To put this into numbers, overall food waste has fallen by almost 500,000 tonnes (source: Wrap), but retail waste was up 6% to 280,000 tonnes, with waste from the hospitality and foodservice sector rising even more, to 1.1 million tonnes. These increases came on the back of an overall fall in waste, including households, which was down the equivalent of 7% per person.
Retailers have been trying to reduce their food waste, but the increase was in part due to the retailers’ efforts to reduce waste across their supply chain. For example, they have relaxed specifications on fresh produce, which has seen increases in waste at retailer depots and stores. Alongside this, supermarkets’ efforts to cut down on plastic had also had an impact, where providing more fresh, loose produce had led to “operational challenges”.
Although supermarkets had initially been encountering problems, such as Morrisons who reported their food waste had increased nearly threefold by scrapping plastic packaging on their veg, the good news is that they have since managed to bring the levels back down.
Worldwide, the USA products more food waste than the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden combined.
It is clear that work has to be done in order to improve the current food waste situation, and we’re making sure we do our bit! Here at Warrens we’re working with businesses all across the North East, collecting their food waste in our eco-fuelled fleet, before transporting it all back to our anaerobic digestion facility.
One back at our facility, the waste goes through the anaerobic digestion process, which can be viewed in more detail here, before being converted into clean, green energy that can be used for things such as powering vehicles and homes.
Every year we turn 115,000 tonnes of waste into 100,000,000 kWh of clean, green energy, which is enough to power 19,000 homes.
When it comes to the foods that are most often wasted in the UK, the most common wasted foods are potatoes, bread, milk, bananas and salad. This is to be expected, with a lot of the products having a short shelf life.
Although we specialise in commercial food waste, there are nationwide issues with food waste. So, what can you do to help? Well we’ve grouped together some top tips and recipes for you to try when it comes to the most commonly wasted foods.
Amount wasted each day in British households: 5.8 million whole potatoes.
Top tips: It is best to store your potatoes in a cool, dark place in order to help them last longer. Don’t be afraid to become friends with your freezer… Cook up your potatoes and portion them into sandwich bags before freezing them – they’ll be great to use in a future meal.
Also, don’t forget about your potato skins, they are packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, plus they can make a tasty alternative to crisps!
Amount wasted each day in British households: 24 million slices of bread.
Top tips: We all now bread doesn’t have a great shelf life, so if you find yourself with a loaf that is going stale, why not try making your own breadcrumbs? If not, then once again your freezer can be your best friend – bread can stay in the freezer for up to 3 months!
Amount wasted each day in British households: 5.8 million glasses of milk.
Top tips: The first thing to remember with milk is to trust your senses. Don’t always rely on the ‘best before’ date, smell it as well! Milk also freezes well, or you can blend it with some leftover fruit to make a smoothie!
Amount wasted each day in British households: 1.4 million bananas.
Top tips: Well the first thing to do is always separate your bananas for storage. Then, as they begin to speckle and go brown, freeze them! If they turn completely black, then don’t worry – this makes them perfect for our recipe idea.
Amount wasted each day in British households: 178 million bags of salad.
Top tips: Storage is important for your salad. Try to keep it in one of the drawers at the bottom of your fridge. When it comes to lettuce, try to buy fresh where possible. Then separate the leaves, wash them and pat the leaves dry.
If you place them in a storage container lined with some kitchen towel and store in the bottom of your fridge, you should get at least 5 days use out of them.