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Food Waste: a blind eye to effortless solutions

By Andrea Gaini and Caterina Dassie’

Of the biggest environmental issues we hear every day, food waste is one of the most significant. However, we tend to not really think about it as a problem that affects our lives until we get to see with our own eyes the critical amount of waste.

Student jobs are often within the hospitality and catering fields, one of the areas in which we realized how much food is thrown away. Every year, 920,000 tonnes of food are wasted, 75% of which could have been eaten. On a much smaller scale, the majority of us must have seen, at least once, some food being wasted without any distinctions – whether still edible or not – by food businesses, which have to follow the prohibitive redistribution legislations. Such legislations are either not exhaustive or only achievable through volunteering organisations, and only suggest an ideal solution without providing the means to accomplish them. Therefore, business companies personally have to get in contact with volunteers, which however most of the times do not have enough funding or the necessary tools to provide the service. This inevitably determines a failure of the rules’ aim and a high amount of wasting.

Is there a way out from this vicious circle? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, a study conducted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has shown that, by decreasing food waste by only 5%, we would be able to save up to £250 million in two years. This money could then be invested by the government in promoting the redistribution of food waste, as well as in financially sustaining the non-profit organisations with their amenities.

A good solution on the macro-level could be following the example of 2016 France legislation – banning supermarkets that were throwing away unsold food, and forcing them to arrange deals with charities. This could also be applied to the Hospitality and catering services mentioned earlier. Soon after the law passed, French actionists’ intention was to encourage other EU members to join them in the fight. Almost two years later, very few improvements can be recorded.

There are, of course, actions that can be easily taken into consideration on our micro-level. For instance, there is an app called TGTG (Too Good To Go), which was launched in Denmark at the end of 2015, and became popular in the UK last year. The app allows you to buy non-consumed products from food businesses an hour before they close, spending from £2 to 3.80£. Reduced-price goods can also be found in most supermarkets at the end of the day – which is not good only for the environment, but also for our students’ pockets. Finally, when in a restaurant, if the portions are too big (and you also want to save some space in your stomach for some dessert), do not be afraid to ask for a doggy bag or to simply share with your companions.

It sounds absurd that, despite the hard work of actionists, volunteers and the uncountable services available to reduce food wasted, the problem is still unsolved and the amount of products thrown in the bin is rocketing year by year. No excuses for this can be accepted: there are solutions out there, which can be financed with the money that, together with the food, we are wasting.

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