UK government launches £500,000 fund to re-purpose food waste

We can feed landfills or we can feed people. What side do you choose?

Somehow we keep forgetting a very important finding: We could feed the world with what we grow now, if only we didn’t throw so much away.

Canada wastes about $30bn worth of food per year and Britain wastes $20bn a year. Food waste is challenging, as it is so widespread and distributed, no single initiative can make a real dent in the challenge.

Given that food is wasted at every point between the farm and the consumer, there are opportunities at every level of the supply chain to make a real difference.

Over in the UK, food waste appears to have become a cause of the moment. From a supermarket helping consumers to use their leftovers, LeftOver Foundation; a solution to match food waste to organisations in need, run by volunteers, to an innovative company making beer from old bread,  there are many promising signs that this moral outrage is finally being taken seriously.

The latest example that attitudes are shifting, reported on over at the Independent, comes from the UK government itself. Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced that Britain was launching a £500,000 fund to redirect food waste from retailers, and use it instead to feed the homeless and food insecure families across the United Kingdom.

Besides the obvious fact that this is the right thing to do, I think the headlines for this initiative reveal another important truth: a few resources can go a long way on this particular issue. After all, £500,000 (US$669,600) is not a lot of money when it comes to government funding. Nevertheless, advocates—including charities working on food waste—believe that the new Food Waste Reduction fund could result in a four-fold increase in how much waste is diverted to feeding those in need.

Given the fact that, according to Project Drawdown, food waste reduction ranks third among all potential solutions to climate change, in terms of potential impact, this seems like a smart investment.

Please explore how you can collectively influence your local government, supply chain, corporations and community to act.


Mark van Engelen is founder Nya Sustainability Consulting, a consulting firm helping organizations implement sustainability. Services include sustainability strategy development, zero waste planning, GHG emissions calculating and planning, energy/water management, employee engagement and guidance in B Corp and carbon neutral certification.

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