An estimated one third of food waste worldwide is lost or goes to waste. In 2020, 6.6 million tonnes of food was wasted in the UK, a majority of it unopened or part used. The impact on our wallets and environment is significant, with an annual cost of £10.2 billion and an impact of 8% on greenhouse gases*.
So, as individuals, how can we reduce food waste?
1) Store Food Correctly
The average household loses £470 a year on wasted food, and 34% of the food thrown away in households consists of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is often due to produce being climacteric, which means they release ethylene gas. This gas causes the fruit and vegetables to continue ripening. You can reduce food waste by using our SYM Fresh bags which have a microporous film structure which will adsorb and trap ethylene inside the film. They have been proven to extend the life of the fruit and veg up to 40%.
2) Use What You Have
At times, it can be tricky to know what to do with leftovers. Especially if you grow your own, get a veg box, or love shopping the bargain section at the supermarket. Fortunately there are plenty of resources out there giving tips, tricks and recipes. Love Food Hate Waste is the classic, with recipes for leftovers, tips on freezing and preserving food and advice on how to cut waste in the first place. Free app SuperCook allows you to type in all your ingredients, then it will give you recipes based on what you actually have – this can be really useful for keeping a pantry inventory. Finally, Jack Monroe is legendary for their ability to create gourmet level meals on an extreme budget – their Bootstrap Cook website features budget friendly recipes (including vegan ones) to use up your veggies.
3) Meal Planning
Meal planning is tough. But if you can get it right it will massively reduce your food waste. It’s best to go low tech for this one. Pull out a pad of paper or excel spreadsheet, label the days, meals and snacks and roughly plan what you’re going to have for each meal. From there write an ingredients list. Scratch off what you already have in, and take that list to the shops when you go – and stick to it.
Some tips to make it easier include having a few meals that you repeat throughout the week, such as having Taco Tuesdays, Fish Fridays and a Sunday roast. The Sunday roast is a great timesaver, because the leftovers can be used to make a chicken curry on Monday, plus you can pop the less palatable leftovers into a slow cooker or pan to make stock.
4) Home Composting
Even if you meal plan, use your leftovers and store your produce carefully, you’re still going to have some scraps – stems, peels and offcuts at least. Home composting is one of the most eco-friendly ways to reduce the food waste you send to landfill. You can compost most kitchen scraps, with the exception of meat and bones. And it has the added bonus that once the compost is created, you can use it to grow more fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t have outdoor space, you can try worm farms – known as vermicomposting – or Bokashi, an anaerobic process. (Although Bokashi compost needs to be cultured before coming into contact with plants). There are also websites like Share Waste where you can find individual and community composters to take your food scraps.
5) Shop Creatively
Most of us, even if we meal plan and shop local, go to our local supermarket. They’re often convenient, local and well stocked. However – up to 20-40% of produce is rejected before it ever gets to the shelves. Not because of spoilage, but due to how it looks. Consider shopping at grocers, where fruits and vegetables are often fresher and seasonal, with less plastic packaging. Or go to the source and order produce directly from farms, via special markets or veg boxes. If you want to take it one step further, there are gleaning networks where volunteers connect with farmers to harvest produce that would otherwise go to waste.
If you’re a commercial customer, we also offer wholesale Sym Fresh bags, suitable for retail and hospitality.