Food waste furore – can it spark prevention progress?
The issue of food waste dominated the headlines once again last week, but this time it was households under the spotlight rather than food manufacturers and retailers.
According to a new WRAP study – Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK in 2012 – the average family throws away an equivalent of six meals a week, costing the country £12.5 billion in the process.
Whilst progress has been made overall since 2007, these recent findings show that significant improvements are still required.
Thankfully ‘closed loop’ organisations exist that can recover surplus food and convert it into high energy animal feed, and elsewhere anaerobic digestion specialists are working hard to produce renewable energy from food waste. At least solutions are being devised to harness some value from the foodstuffs that would otherwise be disposed of, and our food waste shredders form an integral part of these innovative processes.
However, as we strive to achieve a truly resource efficient economy, the focus really has to be on changing UK manufacturing, retailing and consumption behaviours. Waste prevention has to be the priority if we are to make real progress over time. So what can be done?
A number of suggestions have come to the fore in recent weeks. Food manufacturers for instance can make steps to improve the quality and efficiency of their production processes, so that less wastage is created as a result of trial runs, overcooking or wrong weights and sizes.
Some have also suggested that the supply chain can be strengthened between manufacturers and retailers, so that foods have a longer shelf life when they reach the supermarket.
The efficacy of multi-buy offers that claim to save consumers money is being questioned too. Purchasing more ingredients than are needed, over-estimating portion sizes and throwing out food due to fear of ‘best before’ dates, further increases the problem in the home.
As with many areas of waste and recycling, education will play a crucial role in driving improvements here. Pioneering technological advancements could also revolutionise the country’s prevention of food waste. Scottish firm Insignia has received almost £1 million investment to trial a new smart label for instance, which changes colour to show when food has been ‘just opened’, when consumers need to ‘use soon’ and when it is ‘past best’. The opportunity for a product like this to excel in the current climate is surely vast.
In summary, a combined effort is required to achieve the progress we are looking for. New Government waste and resource minister Dan Rogerson is said to have acknowledged this and has pledged to work with the industry to help the country move forward. Now we must all roll up our sleeves to do our bit and see what further headway can be made.
If you would like to speak to a member of the UNTHA UK team about our food waste shredders or if you have an anaerobic digestion facility that could benefit from our UNTHA shredding technology, then please call us on 0845 450 5388, email us or complete our short enquiry form. We even have a range of finance packages to make your investment as affordable as possible.