Guide to Reducing Food Waste

Section 1 – Introduction 

Here in the UK, food waste is a major problem, and we waste around 4.5 million tonnes each year. Worldwide we waste around 2.5 billion tonnes. Both businesses and individuals are guilty of this, whether we have cooked too much food and the leftovers have gone into the bin, we have forgotten about food and it has gone off in the back of the drawer/cupboard, or supermarkets throw away food that is still edible but has passed its shelf life.

The food we waste also has an effect on climate change, 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the food we waste. Not only do these emissions occur when the food breaks down, but emissions are also created through its production, delivery and keeping it fresh. According to the WWF, this figure is higher than the emissions caused by the cars on the road in both the US and Europe. 

Don’t despair, there are solutions to limiting the amount of food you waste. This guide, made by Going Green and our food waste partner OLIO, will help you to join the 54% of the UK that are already minimising the amount of food they throw away.

Are solutions available?

Section 2 – Are solutions available?

Reducing food waste is a powerful solution to the climate crisis, as it is responsible for around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. This means that by cutting out food waste, there is the potential to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by 10%.

There are a number of ways in which you can lower the amount of food waste you produce, including:

  • Shopping with a plan
  • Storing your food correctly
  • Sharing food using the OLIO app
  • Sharing your views on food waste

Changing any part of your life can be daunting and reducing the amount of food you waste doesn’t have to be. The key is to remember you are allowed to start with the small things. Doing a little bit at a time to become sustainable.

You don’t need to save the whole world all at once. You’ll be making an impact even if you start small.

Solutions for reducing food waste at home

Section 3 – Solutions for reducing food waste at home

Most of your food waste will be what you waste within your home. This could be because you bought too much, you cooked too much or that you forgot what you had in the cupboards. A study carried out by Wrap in 2022, stated that food waste is costing families in the UK  £780 per year on average.

In this section of the guide, we will take you through some of the ways you can cut down the amount of food you waste at home.

Shop with a plan
One of the easiest ways to lower your amount of food you waste is to write a list of what food you need to buy. Therefore, you only buy what you need and there is less of a chance you buy too much. If you pair this with a weekly meal planner you will know exactly what you are eating each day and you won’t buy ingredients you don’t need.

Store your food properly
In order to keep food fresh for longer make sure you are storing them correctly. For example, when buying bread, keep it in the freezer, when you need a couple of slices for toast or a sandwich you can just take what you need and defrost. Other tips include keeping herbs in water, making sure you check which fruits and veggies are best kept in the fridge, and using beeswax covers. All of these things will keep food fresher for longer.

Download the OLIO app
Our food waste partner, OLIO, has an amazing mobile app that allows you to connect with others to either find the food you need or it can help you to give away any surplus food you have. The app is great for reducing the food you waste as sharing food stops it from ending up in landfill. 

By sharing what you don’t need, you have prevented your item from going into the bin, and you have stopped someone buying an entirely new product from the supermarket, that could also become food waste.

These are a few solutions to get you on your way to reducing your food waste at home. Remember that it is ok to take baby steps and you don’t have to do everything at once. Not all of these solutions will work for you, take your time and find out what works best for you.

Solutions for reducing food waste in the office

Section 4 – Solutions for reducing food waste in the office

A large amount of food is wasted in offices, in this section we will give you a few examples on how to prevent this.

  1. Lead a company meeting on food waste
    The chances are that there are a lot of other people in your offices that are interested in preventing food waste. A meeting is a brilliant opportunity for you all to pull your ideas together and come up with solutions that work for you all. For those that are less interested or don’t understand the impact food waste has on climate change, a meeting could be a brilliant way to open their eyes and get them interested.
  2. Get an office food waste bin
    This is a great way to figure out how much food waste your office is actually creating, as you will be able to see how many times it needs to be emptied. You can even go one step further and if possible, set up an office compost bin in an outside space or have someone collect your waste for composting.
  3. Assign an office ‘food waste champion’
    Each week a new ‘food waste champion’ can be assigned, in order to oversee events to encourage others to think and take action against food waste.
  4. Download the OLIO app
    The OLIO app is a great way for offices to get rid of any unwanted food without it becoming waste and ending up in landfill. If you choose to set up a ‘food waste champion’ system, this person could then be in charge of making sure edible food doesn’t go to waste with the app.

Be aware that not all offices are the same, so a solution that works in one office might not work for another. Where possible make sure you all work together to choose the best solutions for reducing food waste in your office.

Wrap, a climate action, non-governmental organisation who work towards tackling the causes of climate change, have put a Food Waste Reduction Roadmap and toolkit together to help businesses within the food industry to halve global food waste per capita under target 12.3 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This roadmap will help to reduce waste in agriculture, as well as in the manufacturing, the producing, and the selling of food.


Section 5 – Conclusion

We hope that this guide has shown you that there are many ways to reduce the amount of food you waste. This includes buying only what you need for your home cooked meals to carry out a meeting in the office to figure out a waste reducing strategy. 

Make sure you remember that it is ok to start small, as every little thing you do will help to lower food waste and its effects on climate change.

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 Thank you to our partners OLIO and WRAP for their contributions to this guide to reducing food waste.