A new green solution to food waste

Written by by Kaneswaran Karamargiri, CNN Published: Jul 14, 2017 – 09:38AM Compostable cooking bags: Reduce waste by using re-purposed bags. Recycling: Change what’s thrown away. Food waste is something that most of us…

A new green solution to food waste

Written by by Kaneswaran Karamargiri, CNN Published: Jul 14, 2017 – 09:38AM

Compostable cooking bags: Reduce waste by using re-purposed bags.

Recycling: Change what’s thrown away.

Food waste is something that most of us just accept. It seems the easiest solution, and in some ways it is. Every day, between one and two billion meals are thrown away — or one pound of food for every man, woman and child in the world. And it doesn’t even make up much of our daily calorie intake.

It all adds up. Big time.

Breakfast cereal and pasta are the most common offenders of uneaten food.

In 2011 the UK government suggested an “anywhere but in the bin” approach. That translates to dropping leftovers in the bin, not when they’re meant to be used. If eaten, food scraps would go into a composting bin.

This visual example was made by Karen Morgan for the World Economic Forum’s Future of Food Summit in Davos.

“We’ve got about 75% of our food wasted in a day,” Morgan said. “The UK still produces twice as much food as China and we eat twice as much as America, who are close to catching up with us as food ‘giants’. We waste 1.3 billion pounds of food every year.”

The European Food Safety Authority has produced a series of guidelines on food waste. Credit: DACS

That same day, in Britain, we’ve wasted 500kg of edible food. We like to think the health benefits of consuming this rubbish outweigh the environmental repercussions.

The sustainability experts at the World Economic Forum believe food waste is a massive unmet need that demands immediate action.

“More people should have access to affordable food. Unless we do that, all the technology in the world won’t be effective in reducing food waste. We have some better technology here but it has to be adopted,” said Dr. Kurt Lippold, a senior Lecturer in Ecology at the University of York, and co-author of “Food Is. It’s simple. Do It. Waste less.”

The food industry has taken note, and has begun to take action. Consumers in the US have seen generous reductions of food waste at some of the country’s biggest grocery chains, including Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, and Target.

In the US, supermarket giant Walmart has announced an ambitious new set of pledges. In a joint venture with their suppliers, the retail chain will eliminate food waste from their supply chain by 2030.

Currently, food accounts for at least 20% of most retailers’ raw material costs. Good sustainability practices have long been core to the bottom line. Without food stores, the price of grocery goods would soar.

But cutting down on food waste doesn’t come without costs. Cutbacks in production or the leftovers of food left to do as waste.

Taking control of food waste is now an imperative, says Dr. Asha Changdurai, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Assessment Service for the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. “We have lost sight of what makes food sustainable,” she said. “We need to take a holistic approach to food production.”

Changdurai is currently looking at what practices in the agricultural sector, away from the pick ‘n’ pack, could save money, while reducing the likelihood of food waste. The results will be published this year.

As a one-off project and, until further research is conducted, a one-off solution, Morgan went and bought herself just one week’s worth of food with the help of apps. She ended up making soup to share and feeding herself, and perhaps she saved another meal. But what’s to stop this happening every day?

“Our obsession with convenience is a big part of the problem,” she says. “But we’ll have to take one day as a pilot for next year if we want to do something more permanent. We have to try and take a step back.”

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