News release from 29/09/2020

Love food, hate waste

Love food, hate waste

People across the UK wasted a third less food than normal during lockdown – and Greater Cambridge residents are being urged to keep up these efforts as part of a new campaign.

Local councils and the food partnership organisation Cambridge Sustainable Food have teamed up in the fight against food waste.

Figures from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) show that during lockdown, UK households reported wasting a third less food than normal, as they found creative ways of using up and making food go further. Now Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, a partnership between Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, is asking residents to keep up the good work amid rising levels of food waste post-lockdown.

A trolley full of food

According to figures from RECAP, across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire over 10,000 tonnes of edible food was thrown away by households last year, and the UK figure is 4.5 million tonnes. As well as being a waste of money and food, this has a huge impact on carbon emissions.

Simple tips to keep food waste down:

Checking your cupboards and fridge, planning meals and making a list before you shop.

Hitting pause on produce by freezing it before it’s past its best. For example, chicken that you have purchased.

Getting creative in the kitchen to use up food which would otherwise be wasted – think banana bread and bread pudding.

Turning your fridge temperature down to below 5°C – helping foods like milk to keep longer.

The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking food uses a lot of energy, fuel and water, contributing to 30% of the world’s CO2e greenhouse gas levels. With 90% of the UK’s fruit coming from overseas, distribution alone means your grapes could have travelled all the way from Egypt! The huge amount of resources that go into producing food that is then thrown away amounts to the same amount of CO2e as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth.

Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre at Cambridge City Council, said: “We are raising awareness of the impacts of wasting food, as well as offering simple solutions – like storage tips to make food last longer, and getting organised by making a shopping list or snapping a ‘shelfie’. Lockdown showed that we can do this – but people need to know this is still as important as ever.”

Cllr Brian Milnes with a trolley full of food, standing in front of a bin lorry

Cllr Brian Milnes (pictured - left), South Cambridgeshire District Council’s’ Lead Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Licensing said: “It’s important we all acknowledge that the small actions we each take at home add up to make a huge collective difference. With climate change, this is a critical way of reducing emissions – by each doing our bit and working together. That’s why we’re delighted to be working with Cambridge Sustainable Food, who will be supporting residents to make changes.”

To help start the campaign, the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service has donated 100KG of food to Cambridge Sustainable Food. According to figures from WRAP, that is the approximate amount of food the average person throws away each and every year. This food has now gone to Cambridge Sustainable Food’s local food distribution hubs.

Cambridge Sustainable Food will launch its Food Waste Challenge in October – where households can sign up to get detailed support to waste less food. A range of online cookery workshops, recipes and storytelling will also be available.

Project co-ordinator Bea Brown, who works for Cambridge Sustainable Food CIC, said: "We are really excited about the challenge launching in October and are looking forward to supporting lots of participants in building on the good habits forged during lockdown. On Saturday October 24 there is an online screening of award-winning film ‘Just Eat It’, followed by a live zoom discussion ‘Whose responsibility is sustainability?’. We will also have chefs sharing their tips and recipes, including celebrity food writer and broadcaster Tim Hayward, celebrated chef and writer Rosie Sykes and lots more local talent."

Find out what you can do to keep crushing food waste

Get tips, recipes and inspiration.

Sign up for the Food Waste Challenge.

Recycle food waste