Thinking about your waste(line) this Christmas - William Murray

For a couple of weeks in December (or for some of us, a solid month), we eat whatever we want and don’t think about our waist-line for a second. But, while we’re not thinking much about our waists, a lot of companies are busy thinking about waste.

Food waste continues to be a big deal. In 2015, 7.3 million tonnes of food was wasted, of which 4.4 million was avoidable[i]. Since then, companies have been trying to do their bit to fight waste for good. Some recent changes include clearer packaging, a crackdown at the Co-op and a new approach to cucumbers.

WRAP, with the support of the government, are fighting confusing date labels. WRAP believes that dates on some food products encourage consumers to throw away food long before it’s no longer safe to eat. With the addition of correct dates and helpful storage advice (including their ‘little blue fridge’), it’s hoped that people will use more food, instead of just tossing it away.

The war on best-before dates doesn’t end there. The Co-op recently became the first major retailer to actively sell food that has passed its apparent best-before date. The initiative, which has been introduced in over 100 sites in East Anglia, sees certain dried and tinned foods dropping in price to just 10p, after their best-before date. This is because a ‘best-before’ date isn’t a ‘use-by’ date. A use-by date is a cut-off, after which a product is no longer safe to eat. A best-before date is simply guidance, that a product won’t be of the same quality following that date, but remains safe to eat.

A wise man once told me that every good blog should end with a story about cucumbers – guidance I take very seriously. As well as food going to waste, certain products can cause other kinds of waste, such as plastic. Lord Hayward, of the House of Lords, wants the UK to act like other European supermarkets, and offer certain vegetables unwrapped, in order to tackle plastic waste. Each year, 490 tonnes of plastic is used just to cover cucumbers – 490 tonnes of plastic that Lord Hayward believes isn’t really needed. But, this change may be unlikely, as some supermarkets say that removing the plastic can lead to greater food waste by damaging shelf life.

Food waste, and waste wrapped around our food, will undeniably remain a big deal in 2018, but initiatives like the above are a great step forward in fighting waste once and for all.


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