Did you know?
- Reusing as much surplus food as possible, to avoid the generation of waste and creating a new food ingredient or finished product can be called “Circular Eating”, “upcycled foods”, or “waste-to-value”
- Numerous studies have been conducted focusing on the extraction of “bioactive” compounds from fruit and vegetable waste streams. Bringing nutrients such as water-soluble vitamins and dietary fibres back into the supply chain this way can add value to businesses and improve sustainability
- Waste material, such as the shells of nuts or onion peels, can be used in the production of bio composite films with practical uses in industry
- Studies have shown that people are positively disposed to the idea of circular eating, as long as food safety concerns and affordability considerations are taken into account
- To date, the most popular method for using waste material from the horticulture industry is as animal feed
- The EU’s “Farm to Fork” strategy focuses on achieving a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. It is the first step in providing a clear direction for using surplus food or waste items in beneficial ways to reduce food waste – such as re-using it for animal or human consumption, the recovery of nutrients or use for energy.
Why is this important?
- When people discuss food waste more often, waste-to-value products are better received by consumers, particularly if the sustainability impact of reducing food waste is highlighted
- The impact of excessive greenhouse gas emissions generated by food waste disposed to landfills makes a serious case for us to focus on food waste reduction
- By consumers being open to less than perfect-looking food items, we can change wasteful practices. For example, farmers often remove outer leaves of vegetables, which might have been undesirable for the consumers, although they are perfectly edible
- Globally, a quarter of all food produced does not actually reach our tables
- While fruit and vegetables may only account for a small quantity of food produced overall, they generate a considerably larger amount of food waste: 76% (fruit) and 41% (vegetables) across the supply chain.
What can I do?
- Consumer expectations have a knock-on effect across our whole supply chain – don’t pass over mis-shaped fruit or veg and encourage your retailer to engage with companies like food cloud when they have surplus
- Be wary of product promotions, which can often have a negative impact on the purchase of normal products in supermarkets, which then go to waste, and also create more food waste in households, as consumers take advantage of the cheaper pricing but end up buying more produce than will be consumed
- Embrace initiatives such as “ugly veg”, which are good for highlighting the power that consumers hold with their choices, increase acceptance of reintroducing surplus food into the food chain and use them as a way to raise these topics with friends and family
- If you are in business look into the Food Waste Charter, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that helps to guide businesses in identifying where waste is occurring and providing suggestions for how to avoid this waste
For more information:
Contact ATU Sligo Food Waste Research Team
Ireland’s Food Waste Charter for businesses
Information on promoting the Circular Economy
Food Cloud Ireland