This week has brought us World Food Day — celebrated every year on Oct. 16. And in 2018, it’s got everyone talking about food waste.
Food waste is one of the most absurd things about the global food system. Of all the food produced for human consumption around the world, a third of it is lost or thrown away.
That’s around 1.3 billion tonnes of food that’s going to waste — while at the same time 821 million people are malnourished.
In the UK alone — where about 8 million people live in households that struggle to put food on the table — some 900,000 edible, fresh meals are ending up in the bin every day.
In a year, 320 million meals are reportedly being thrown out, according to figures compiled by good waste app Too Good to Go. It’s enough food to feed the whole population of the UK five times over, reported the Guardian.
“No one leaves the lights on when they leave the house,” said Hayley Conick, UK managing director at Too Good to Go, in a statement. “Yet, whether it’s in restaurants, food shops, or our own homes, we don’t think twice about throwing away perfectly good food.”
The government’s food waste advisory board Wrap estimates that the problem costs businesses in Britain more than £2.5 million a week. And across all sectors, according to WHO, food waste costs the UK about £20 billion every year.
Too Good to Go is one of several apps working to combat food waste — and it’s going it by linking members of the public to restaurants with unsold food, which they can then “rescue” for a discounted price. So far, the app says it has reduced over 5 million meals.
“By creating a new market for surplus food we make sure that more food gets eaten leaving businesses, consumers, and the planet as winners in the process,” added Conick.
Earlier this month, the UK government announced a £15 million project to cut food waste, which is designed to cut the estimated 100,000 tonnes of edible food that is thrown away every year.
“Working with industry and charities, we should be able to get up to 250 million extra meals a year on to the tables and plates of the most deserving in our society,” said Michael Gove, the UK’s environment secretary.
Meanwhile, in a voluntary action, 90 retailers, manufacturers, producers, hospitality, and restaurant chains across Britain pledged to halve food waste “from farm to fork” — meaning throughout the whole supply chain — by 2030.
It was described at the time as a “transformational” moment in the fight against food waste.
By 2026, the aim is to have 250 of Britain’s leading food businesses signed up to the plan to cut waste, which is led by Wrap and the food and grocery charity IGD.