Food Waste Stories

World Bank estimates third of food is wasted

Thursday 13th March 2014

The World Bank has estimated that the world wastes one-quarter to one-third of all food produced for human consumption in its most recent Food Price Watch report.

The report states that the global community wastes a total of 11 billion metric tons every year. In developing countries suffering from extreme cases of undernourishment this wastage of food translates to 400 – 500 calories per person each day and in developed countries, such as Britain, as much as 1,520 calories per day.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said “The amount of food wasted and lost globally is shameful.

Millions of people around the world go to bed hungry every night, and yet millions of tons of food end up in trash cans or spoiled on the way to market.”

South and Southeast Asia is reported to waste a quarter of all global food with 87% lost in production, storage and transport, whereas in North America and Oceania almost 61% of food is wasted by consumers.

Yong Kim emphasised the need to step up and take action now to stop the colossal amount of food being wasted. In developed countries there are many simple solutions available to become more sustainable such as using reseal-able containers and encouraging businesses and consumers to be more responsible. In developing countries more complex solutions are needed though such as investing more in infrastructure.

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case study - Scotland's first zero waste brew pub?

Monday 12th August 2013

ThHangingBat, a microbrewery and beer café in Edinburgh, are going for zero waste to landfill.

Since opening in October last year, the beer café have served their food in Vegware’s certified compostable packaging and in January, they contacted The Food Waste Network, Vegware’s sister initiative that helps businesses find recycling services, for advice about how to recycle their packaging.

On speaking with The Hanging Bat it became clear that there was real room for improvement of their waste management. 


Before we helped out, The Hanging Bat were recycling glass and cans, but everything else was going into the general waste bin - a total of 3 full 1100-litre bins per week going straight to landfill.

step one: an audit of materials and costs

To begin reducing this we first looked at what recyclable materials were going into general waste. This was mainly food waste, Vegware packaging, cardboard, plastic and paper – all of which could be recycled.

The next step was to work out the cost of introducing recycling collections for these materials. The answer? Nothing. In fact, recycling more would mean reducing the size of the general waste bin, and The Hanging Bat would actually save money on their weekly waste costs.

new bins, new signs 

This swayed it for the management and so the Hanging Bat’s journey to zero waste began. The first step was to introduce two new bins: one for food waste and compostable food packaging; one for plastic, cardboard and paper. Recycling volumes going up means general waste going down, so an important cost-saver was to reduce the size of the general bin from 1100 litre to 360 litre.

Each bin behind the bar now has bespoke bin signage made by Vegware, ensuring staff know exactly what goes where. No excuses for recyclable material going in the general bin now!

the results?

The new waste system has not only saved The Hanging Bat on its weekly waste costs, but has now successfully reduced their waste to landfill by 90%. Landfill is by far the most expensive destination for waste, so reducing your reliance on that general waste bin protects you from this. Also, this Edinburgh beer café now recycle all materials required by the incoming Waste (Scotland) Regulations

In fact, they actually recycle even more than required by the new Regs. But The Hanging Bat are trying to go zero waste to landfill, so they are looking for ways to trim their bin even further. One tricky material they have come across is candle wax, left over when candles have burned out. To avoid sending this to landfill, they have teamed up with a local candle maker who will recycle the wax into new candles – solving a difficult waste stream whilst supporting another local business!

lessons learnt

So what can other businesses learn from The Hanging Bat’s waste reduction experience?Firstly, increasing recycling doesnot necessarily mean increasing costs – The Hanging Bat have saved money by reducing their waste.  And what’s

more it was easy – they only had to bring in two new bins to reduce waste to landfill by 90%.

Reducing waste and becoming a more sustainable business brings with it increased PR and marketing opportunities. On 7th March, The Hanging Bat’s story was shared during a Climate Week event, attended by guests from a range of high profile Scottish businesses. Look out for the event write-up in the March edition of Foodservice Footprint magazine.

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eco eating at brookwood

Monday 12th August 2013

Did you know that a third of all waste in secondary schools is food waste, and in primary schools, at 46 per cent, food is the largest fraction of all waste?

Many schools are working to achive Eco-School status, part of an international programme to raise students’ awareness of sustainable development issuesthough classroom study and community action. Making sure food waste is managed properly is a really important part of any school's environmental action plan.

One school which has got behind environmental best practice is University College School (UCS) in Hampstead which has 1,100 pupils aged 3 -18. All the food at UCS is freshly prepared every day in the school kitchens by The Brookwood Partnership. Brookwood is a specialist caterer to the education sector, so they know a thing or two about what children want! As part of its Planet Matters Programme, Brookwood has introduced ‘Eco Eating’ at UCS, which is where all food waste is diverted from landfill; but it's not just the diversion from landfill which is important here, it's sending it to Anaerobic  Digestion (AD.)

Eco Eating is the food waste collection scheme from Cawleys waste management, a ‘hall mark scheme’  which ensures that the best possible standard of food waste management is used. Cawleys is a pioneer in commercial food waste management, and helped Waitrose become the first retailer in the country to send its food waste to AD. Now Eco-Eating is available across the country and Brookwood has made it a central part of its Planet Matters Programme.

AD is a process which captures  all the goodness in the food, turning it into a liquid digestate for  fields, and also captures the biogas which is produced in the process.

School children who are keen on science enjoy learning about AD, as it’s a clever process which works rather like a cow’s stomach, where the food is broken down through biological action, in a sealed container. Instead of food waste rotting in landfill where it gives off methane which is twenty times more powerful as a green house gas than carbon dioxide, the bio gas which is released through the biological action of AD is captured and used to generate electricty. The liquid digestate which is the final product from the sealed AD container is an excellent soil conditioner and fertiliser, so the whole process contributes to a positive circle of food growing and eating.

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