Local authority in Derbyshire takes the lead in reducing food waste
South Derbyshire District Council is taking a positive approach to reducing food waste by engaging with school children and local communities. It’s one of a number projects being promoted by the CIEH to mark Food Safety Week, the theme of which is reducing food waste
Funded by £1m from the food giant Sainsbury’s, the market town of Swadlincote beat 189 rival bids to take part in the supermarket’s ‘Waste less, Save more’, a year long trial to test new ideas on cutting food waste.
The aim of the project is to cut the town’s food waste by 50% in a year, with solutions that are scalable so they can be rolled out nationally.
This is all part of a Sainsbury’s five-year-plan during which it will be investing a total of £10m to find effective ways to cut consumer food waste.
South Derbyshire council, along with Derbyshire County Council plus voluntary and community groups, worked together on the bid. Sainsbury’s were particularly impressed with the cohesiveness of the bid with the depth of support from local schools, councils and local community groups that clinched the deal.
Ideas being trialled in Swadlincote range from the high tech to the more simple approach.
One recent initiative being rolled out involves a fridge that can take ‘fridge selfies’ sent to a phone app to alert the user what’s in their fridge when shopping.
The reasoning behind the idea is that despite our best attempts we don’t seem to be able to remember what food we have at home. Over a third of us overbuy fruit and veg as well as milk, cheese and eggs.
Another initiative being trialled by the council’s housing department involves helping new tenants facing hardship by providing a food waste kit, nutritional advice and support with recipe ideas.
The environmental health team was involved from the start with the project and were keen to show food hygiene was a key criteria. One idea the environmental health team played a significant role in was helping develop a game on the theme of Top Trumps, with the aim of educating school children around food waste and food safety.
The Top Trumps-type game has proved to be so popular that a charity game company took up the brief and a game now exists that is awaiting sign off from Sainsbury’s. The idea has evolved with other games that could be sent to schools, community groups and even pubs.
Other initiatives conducted by South Derbsyshire District Council include: handing out fridge thermometers to consumers; smart bins that calculate the amount and cost of a households food waste; a zero kitchen waste challenge; and the introduction of food saver champions tasked with delivering the ‘Waste less, Save more’ message through home visits.
Sainsbury’s is currently working with the waste reduction agency WRAP to measure the success of the various schemes and is still looking for new ideas on how to tackle consumer waste.
Jenny Morris, Food Safety lead for CIEH, said: “Environmental health professionals have long been helping communities and businesses reduce food waste and it’s good to see how much they were involved in the efforts by South Derbyshire council.
“Food waste is something we need to get to grips with as over-production is not good for the environment and wasting safe food is a travesty when it could be redistributed to vulnerable people. There are some great charities in the UK doing exactly that and we should be helping them to be even more successful.”
The details within this story have been taken from a longer article featuring in the July edition of Environmental Health News.