Combating food waste?

How smart scales are helping restaurants bin less

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The problem of food waste

A chronic market failure

Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and the value of this wasted food is worth over $1 trillion. To put that in perspective, in the USA food waste represents 1.3% of the total GDP. Food waste is a massive market inefficiency, the kind of which does not persist in other industries.

Morally wrong

Meanwhile 800 million people go to bed hungry every night. That is 1 in 9 people on the planet who are starving or malnourished. Each and every one of them could be sufficiently fed on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the USA, UK and Europe each year.

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Save the world - recycle that bag of carrots past their 'use by' date

By Diane Cooke

When it comes to recycling food, the world is getting ever more inventive.

From junk food cafes that offer pay-as-you-feel incentives for dining, to home composting and re-distributing supermarket food to the poor and hungry, it's all going on.

In 2016, the UK’s first food waste supermarket opened in Pudsey, near Leeds.

Food waste campaigners from the Real Junk Food Project opened "the warehouse", a store on the Grangefield Industrial Estate. Customers are invited to shop for food thrown out by supermarkets and other businesses.

The food is priced on a "pay as you feel" basis and has helped desperate families struggling to feed their children.

Fuel for School is the work of a group of food activists from The Real Junk Food Project who deliver surplus bread, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from supermarkets to schools, where it is used to feed hungry schoolchildren.

According to an investigation by the Evening Standard in 2016, supermarkets were throwing away £230m of edible food at a time when 875,000 Londoners were worrying about where their next meal was coming from.

In Brazil, a journalist has come up with a novel solution for turning waste back into food.

Fernanda Danelon quit her day job four years ago to launch the Guandu Institute, which recycles restaurants’ food waste and helps them set up gardens to put all that compost to good use.

Cities in Brazil, the economic giant of Latin America, throw out more than 75 million tons of trash a year, according to the Brazilian Association of Public Sanitation Companies. About half of it is organic waste, according to the Brazilian environment ministry.

There are no municipal recycling or composting programs to reduce all that garbage, and recycling trash is a foreign concept to most Brazilians.

Fernanda's organisation collects restaurants' food waste at their doors, turns it into compost over the course of three to four months, and delivers the compost back to the restaurants to fertilise in-house gardens — which the institute also helps them set up and maintain.

In the UK, around 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households every year, and most of it could have been eaten. Little by little all this waste adds up - over a year the average family throws away around £700 of food shopping – equivalent to an annual utility bill.

Some of the waste is made up of things like peelings, cores and bones, but the majority is, or once was, perfectly good food. Most of it ends up in landfill sites where it rots and releases methane, a damaging green house gas.

Throwing away food is also a huge waste of the energy, water and packaging used in its production, transportation and storage. If we all stopped wasting the food which could have been eaten, it would have the same CO2 impact as taking one in four cars off UK roads.

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