Here are the cool initiatives tackling food waste in London
Surplus food waste is a huge problem globally - and locally. Here's what Londoners are doing about the food waste issue, from apps to upcycled waste products
But what about the 10 million+ tonnes of food waste we dump every year in Britain, which costs each household around £500 annually and is a major contributor to our global climate crisis? Despite this, recent UN figures have shown that 8.4 million people in the UK are food insecure. The government has pledged to halve the £13 billion food waste issue by 2030, and London's restaurant scene has responded, and is now buzzing with zero-waste, sustainable options to help minimise the amount of food waste from restaurants. Across the country, gorgeous field-to-fork foraging experiences are emerging. That's just the beginning: from surplus food delivery boxes to the myriad of food waste apps available, here are the cool initiatives curbing food waste for you to know about.
Photo: Jeff Sheldon
Food waste apps
Apps like OLIO (Meghan Markle is a fan, putting OLIO co-founder Tessa Clarke in her September 2019 Vogue issue) and Karma have been around for several years now, and offer an opportunity to connect people with discounted and even free food that would otherwise be tossed (with Karma, you can even get surplus takeaway from London restaurants like The Detox Kitchen and Michelin-starred Aquavit). Too Good to Go is another food waste app rescuing surplus deliciousness from restaurants and bakeries like Paul and Patisserie Valerie.
Kitche is the new must-have app for helping to reduce food waste in the home: It helps keep track of what food you've got in the house, scans receipts so you know when to eat each food by and filters recipes based on the ingredients you have at home. Plus, it keeps track of what you're tossing so you can be aware of your waste habits - and start saving cash as well as food.
Surplus food cafes and delivery services
While the main UK supermarkets have pledged to cut food waste, historically, they've been some of the biggest offenders, rejecting produce that looks less desirable because of its shape and colour. While Morrisons (and now other supermarkets) have since championed the sale of wonky-shaped fruit and veg, delivery service box Oddbox works with farmers and growers to bring those otherwise rejected - but delicious - fruits and vegetables straight to your door. You can also get day-old pastries and baked goods delivered to you for that next breakfast meeting or event with DayOld Eats. Food Circle Supermarket sells surplus vegan food and drink, like energy bars and healthy snacks at reduced prices.
Depending on where you're based in London, there are community-specific initiatives fighting food waste. Brixton has a community fridge called Freddie, where people can leave spare food inside for others to take, while Save the Date London at Moo Canoes Milk Float in Hackney Wick is open Thursday evenings and offers a pay-as-you-feel restaurant experience with surplus food (you can also purchase smoked goods from their sister company, boat-based market, Smoke on the Water).
Photo: Upcircle Beauty
Brands using food waste to create new products
We're coming full circle when it comes to our relationship with food waste, with clever entrepreneurs taking products that would be tossed and transforming them into covetable food and beauty buys. Rubies in the Rubble, which takes surplus fruit and veg that would otherwise be chucked and turns it into condiments and chutneys, is now an award-winning brand that's widely available in supermarkets everywhere (the banana ketchup is insane!), while Snact makes wholesome fruit jerky snacks from surplus fruit (also see Spare Snacks), Rejuce takes wonky fruits and turns them into delish new juices and ChicP's hummus varieties are made from surplus veg.
Photo: Toast Ale
Did you know that 24 million slices of bread are thrown out in the UK each day, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme? Toast Ale is a sustainable beer brand and B Corp that uses surplus bread for its delicious beers and collaborates with craft breweries. The award-winning beer has so far upcycled over a million slices of fresh surplus bread and has recently unveiled a new brand identity (plus they're making the change to better-for-the-environment, more efficient aluminium tins).
Another brand to obsess over? UpCircle Beauty, who take used coffee grounds and brewed chai tea spices and rework them into natural, effective skincare products, like a coffee-infused face serum, chai soaps and face and body scrubs. We can't think of a better way to save the 500,000 tonnes of coffee waste produced each year in the UK, can you?
Want to do more about food waste? Here are some of the charities distributing surplus food to those in need: