Food Waste Stories

Food Dates

Monday 22nd February 2016

We all find ourselves staring at food packets from time to time wondering if it has past its best or that it is safe to eat and often the multiple different dates on the packet confuse us even further rather than help.

This confusion is costing us. In the UK we throw away around 3 million tonnes of food and drink to the value of 600 million pounds every year1, before we have even got round to tasting it! This is often down to our confusion over food durability and date labels. Statistics show that simply by making the most of the food that we have already bought, the average family could save almost £60 a month2.

so what do these dates mean?

‘use by’

These are the most important dates on your food and they refer to the safety of the product. Food can be eaten up to and including this date but not after, even if it looks and smells fine. Products that have Use by dates include things like meat and poultry which can cause food poisoning if consumed after expiration. Use by dates are required by law and it is illegal for a shop to sell products if their use by dates have expired.

‘best before’

These dates refer to quality not safety. If the product is stored according to its packaged guidelines it should still be at its best up to and including its best before date. These products should be safe to eat after their best before date but may not be at their best in terms of taste, texture, aroma and appearance. Products such as bread or vegetables will often have best before dates. Again, best before dates are a legal requirement for most food but shops can still sell food after this date provided it meets legal food safety requirements.

‘display until’ and ‘sell by’

These dates are the source of much confusion. They are for the shop staff not for the consumers or shoppers. Unlike the other dates above, display until or sell by dates are not a legal requirement and many organisations such as WRAP have called for these to be removed in the hope that a simplified system might reduce the confusion and in turn food waste.

In order to extend the life of your food it is important to be aware of these dates and use them to your advantage.

-       Always rotate your food, consuming the oldest items first.

-       Freeze items before use by dates and simply defrost and consume them as required.

-       Store your items correctly making sure that they are fresh for the maximum amount of time possible.

By understanding what these dates mean and how we should use them, we can get them to work for us, we can eat safely and also save a few pounds in the process.

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What is the Circular Economy?

Tuesday 26th January 2016

The term ‘circular economy’ is being used a lot now, but what exactly does it mean? The idea of an economy being circular is a fairly new one, and perhaps the best way to explain exactly what we mean by circular economy is to compare it to our current linear economy.

In a linear economy, we take resources from the planet, turn them into products and then we dispose of these products after use.  This may seem an efficient way to operate, but when you consider how scarce many of our finite natural resources are, you begin to see just how irresponsible and unsustainable the linear approach is.

So, let’s think circular. A circular economy is an alternative to our current strategy of take, make and dispose. The idea is that we ‘close the loop’ keeping resources in use for as long as possible. We extract the maximum that we can from them while they are still in use and then recover and regenerate all feasible materials at the end of product life.


This circular approach is a potential solution to the planet’s emerging resource shortages. The circular economy goes beyond recycling, meaning products will be designed with end of life disposal in mind. Every aspect of a product’s conception and construction will be designed to be able to be broken down, reused and recovered at the end of the products life. At the moment, as much as 90% of the raw materials used to manufacture a product are destined to become waste. The goal with the circular economy is not just to design for better end of life recovery but also to minimise energy use.

Forget the environment for a second. Financially, the circular economy makes sense too. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, shifting towards circularity could add $1 trillion to the global economy by 2025 and create 100,000 jobs over the next five years, with manufacturers being the first to benefit as their reliance on expensive finite materials would be reduced.

The way in which we operate as consumers is set to change too under a circular economy. Imagine we didn’t buy goods but we entered into contracts with manufacturers much like we do our mobile phones. We would rent out our washing machines, cars or even clothes from the manufacturer and then when we were finished using their products they would be collected, again by the manufacturer for reprocessing. Thisway valuable raw materials would never be lost, they would be responsibly broken down only to rise again as a new product.

The EU has realised that the circular approach offers an opportunity to reinvent our economy, making it more sustainable and competitive. To reflect this, they released ‘The Circular Economy Package’ on the 2nd December 2015 designed to help businesses and consumers’ make the transition to a stronger more circular economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way.

The circular economy is a highly ambitious concept and it is clear going forward that we as consumers will have to drastically change the way we make purchases, view waste and think about the way we manufacture products as a whole. But, who among us can really argue with the idea of an economy in which materials are efficiently managed and recycled, is run on renewable energy and has little or no negative effects on human life or the ecosystem?

Images sourced at.

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freeze it!

Thursday 2nd July 2015

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food waste network in action

Tuesday 30th June 2015

Recently the Soho Theatre’s reached out to us in hopes to gain a little more information on how to eliminate the food waste produced from their upcoming production. Soho Theatre performed, “The Harvest” which takes place in an orchard. The set displayed an ‘extraordinary rig of green apples’ containing roughly 50-70 Bramley apples, which were replaced at the end of each day. From this amount of apples being used, the theatre's Green Team realized composting the acidic apples couldn’t be the only solution and desired to ensure that not even a single apple went to waste at the end of the day; a feat that we were more than willing to support in any way we could.

Through a few emails back and forth, we were able to help advise them on different venues to send their unused apples. Many local farms are more than willing to accept unused fruits and vegetables as feed for their animals. Another venue for unused fruit is Rubies in the Rubble, a small company that takes surplus or unwanted fruits and vegetables and turns them into jams and chutney.  Every region has a variety of companies that accept surplus, unused, or nearly spoiled food to turn into meals for those in need. Ultimately, working together, we could be sure that every apple would be invested wisely.

Beyond composting a handful of the apples, suitcases were delivered to Police Horses, Vauxhall City Farm, and FanShen Theatre Company. With only a fifteen minute walk separating the theatre from the Great Scotland Yard stables, a large sum of apples were delivered to Police Horses, even Grace, who led the procession at the Royal Wedding. Offering up free time, staff wheeled suitcases off to Vauxhall City Farm to deliver sweet treats to the goats, pigs, and horses stabled at the Farm. Lastly, the FanShen Theatre Company had a production called “The Apple Cart”. Team members from their theatre picked up a rucksack full of apples to sustainably use at their performances that toured around in the south.

Overall, it is a sweet success to hear that through collaborative efforts, zero waste can be achieved in all venues around the UK. If you ever have events or productions that produce any amount of food waste, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are more than willing to provide information and contacts to help you rest well knowing every ounce of food has been used and diverted from landfills.

For more information on the sustainability efforts at Soho Theatre:

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'Ugly' Fruit in France

Monday 22nd June 2015

With around forty percent of all fruit and vegetables being throwing away based on their physical appearance, France has decided to counteract this habit. The third largest grocery chain in France, Intermarché, has placed an initiative to reduce food waste by selling misshapen produce for a 30 per cent discount. The produce was placed in their own aisle, with proper signage to advertise to the customers about their quality in taste, but reduction in price.


We naturally, not only eat with our stomach, but with our eyes which caused initial hesitation when the initiative was first introduced. Customers were unsure of the taste and reliability of the produce because of being deemed at eyesores. The supermarket decided, in order to help sales, to turn the produce into juices and soups for customers to sample to prove their flavor was just as delicious as their pristine counterpart.


The results were hugely successful and all of the stock was sold out in the initial rush. Beyond selling all the ‘ugly’ produce, the grocery store noticed a twenty-four percent increase in overall traffic among their locations. Encouraged by the success of the trial runs, Intermarché will be launching the initiative in all 1,800 of their locations across the country. In general, the “government-sponsored day of action against food waste” is scheduled to happen during the same time as the Intermarché initiative.




















As Intermarché took a stand on preventing food waste, other French supermarket chains, such as, Auchan and Monoprix are following in their footsteps. Additionally, in Britain a growing number of outlets are starting to stock “aesthetically challenged” produce.  

To read more visit: ////


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the real junk food project

Tuesday 9th June 2015

The Real Junk Food Project, founded on 22 February 2013, is a collaborative effort between volunteers and catering professionals to obtain edible food that would be, otherwise, thrown away and never reach a plate. A small desire for change has created cafes that try to place a new value on food.


Founds and co-directors Adam Smith and Johanna Hewitt started The Real Junk Food project in Melbourne, Australia, with portable barbeques, but it didn’t take long for the first café to open in Leeds. Currently piloting a new café in the Adult Education College in Leicester, the hopes of the workers to officially open at the end of the month stand strong.


Their seventeen cities with cafes around the UK area obtain leftover food thrown away by restaurants, supermarkets, and cafes and create them into delicious meals. The Real Junk Food Project prides on the fact that all the food they obtain and serve would have been destined for a landfill and works on a “Pay-as-you-feel” policy. From the words of Mr. Smith, “Our system transcends monetary transactions and liberates people to use their skills and attributes as well as money to pay for their meals.”


Within the last year, The Real Junk Food Project has intercepted 32 tonnes of food that would have ended up in landfill and created 18138 meals for thousands for hungry customers.


Every café seeks the help of donations and is always in need of surplus and unused food in addition to the volunteers that are the heart of the operation. You can find each of their locations and see how you can get involved at:  

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