Who doesn’t love food? Right? Well, in the UK, locals adore it, specially grabbing food on-the-go. In fact, the UK consumes more than 100 million takeaways and prepared foods a week! (iNews, 2017). Why? Mainly because the target customers of this type of food are 18-24 year old adults, who usually live a very stressful routine. They mainly buy Thai food, burritos and pizzas. The fact that the UK consumes on average 4x more packaged foods than fresh food has a clear impact on today’s British economy. But, what about the impact this is having to our environment?
This packaging ‘revolution’ is not only directly harming our environment, but as Dr. Tim Lobstein mentions: “Sadly, processed, packaged foods tend to be less healthy” (The Guardian, 2017). According to ‘The Guardian’ 2.5bn coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK, most of them are neither biodegradable nor recyclable.
Only focusing on food, 10 million tonnes are wasted on average each year in the UK of which 60% could have been avoided (Waste & Resources Action Programme). So, how is it possible that 8.4 million families living in the UK are currently struggling to obtain food (Independent), we are wasting so much food?! Perhaps we all have a part to play in contributing to the massive food wastage problem…
Food wastage not only impacts the waste generated, but the amount of CO2 produced in th manufacturing process, accounts for 25% of UK’s cars CO2 emissions. So what can we do about this? Or, what is being done about this?- there are a few of food recycling solutions that we all need to start following in order to make a change about this.
One well known technique is ‘In-vessel composting’. Basically, the food waste is mixed with garden waste and other chemicals, to finally produce a soil conditioner. Another common technique is called ‘Anearobic Digestion’. Here, microorganisms break down the food waste, producing methane, which is then used to generate electricity, heat or other types of fuels (recyclenow).
But let’s look at a more local solution. Initiatives such as the one at Trinity shopping mall, in Leeds, are starting to make a difference. They separate bins in their food courts to ensure there is a solid baseline for food waste. Moreover, in 2016, the first food waste supermarket opened its doors in London. Supermarkets, donate the food they will throw away that is soon to expire. This concept allows customers to pay whatever they think the food is worth! This initiative has started to help families who cannot afford to feed their kids. One father even mentioned: "We've even had baby milk on one occasion and our baby is 7 months so it was perfect," (Independent)
Trinity Leeds Manager, Dave Downes, starting food recycling camapaign.
A shopper searching for food options in the UK’s first food waste supermarket
These incentives need to be promoted throughout the city in order to perceive a meaningful impact. With the global population intended to increase up to 9.5bn by 2050 (FWI), we need to start looking at more representative solutions. It’s up to all of us to reduce the packaging we are consuming on foods and the food we are wasting, or at least aim to buy the recyclable or biodegradable options, so the damage to the ecosystem is not harmful.
With all of this in mind, and knowing that millions of tonnes of food end up everywhere, why not think of other stuff we usually throw away: Papers? Umbrellas? Cigarettes?
Why not aim to lead a more sustainable lifestyle...?