Tackling food waste together
Tackling food waste together – the great opportunity
Dr Liz Goodwin remarks at Fresher for Longer National Conference 2014
First of all and most important – I am very pleased that WRAP has played its part in the excellent Fresher for Longer initiative – it shows just what can be done when organisations with very different perspectives come together behind a critical idea.
It’s been a great success and deservedly so.
It captures an idea whose time has come – we simply cannot keep generating the amount of food waste we do today with all the associated wasted water and energy and hope to get away with it.
I am buoyed by what lies ahead. Buoyed by the thought that today’s inaugural Fresher for Longer National Conference will lead to a real step change in the outcome of this initiative and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.
Buoyed by the range of parties joining together in one room, for one cause – local authorities, retailers, brands, supply chain organisations, politicians from across the party divide all three main political parties, and of course industry bodies.
Buoyed that we at WRAP have been able to generate the insight and ambition around food waste that brings us together.
Buoyed by the fact that this initiative is integral to WRAP’s successful Love Food Hate Waste campaign.
Buoyed that I can honestly pledge that tackling food waste remains the top priority at WRAP in our work for sustainable use of resources.
The commitment to work alongside one another to make a real and lasting difference.
WRAP’s latest report showed that since 2007, all of us in the UK have reduced the amount of avoidable household food waste by 21% – a 1.1 million tonne reduction. That is amazing. Our definitive and unrivalled picture of household food waste in November, last year, drew worldwide attention.
In fact, I can say today that a recent survey we conducted shows a 21% increase in awareness of food waste amongst consumers since our report in November.
People are engaged, interested… they care.
But if we care, what can we do about it?
The truth is that our report also showed the rate of reduction in food waste was slowing. While worldwide demand for food is growing.
Call to action
That is why, when we published that report, I called for everyone who can make a difference to come together behind an ambition to halve avoidable household food waste by 2025.
Because the truth is, that despite a terrific start and lots of good work, I am bitterly disappointed to see that the rate at which food waste is falling is now slowing.
I am frustrated by that, and determined to do what I can to help turn things round. The slow rate of reduction in food waste since the huge strides made in the initial months and years after 2007 is a real disappointment.
Collectively we have to up our game!
I say “we” because food waste is the problem of all of us – we can’t point fingers and shouldn’t. All of us could make a difference if we wanted to – collectively, we have huge cut through with decision makers and business, and we have the ability to help consumers take the action we know they want to.
I am simply not prepared to stand here next year and say we have not made real progress over the previous 12 months.
Current momentum just won’t cut it I am afraid.
The low hanging fruit has long since been picked; it is the areas that are harder to reach that need attention. You will have heard no doubt this week that WRAP is evolving to diversify its funding base. A future move to charity status is being scoped out and a change in relationship with Scottish Government will take place.
Where there is change there is also consistency, as my commitment is that WRAP will continue to prioritise tackling food waste, right across the food loop.
I am very proud that WRAP, to quote Professor Tim Benton during his evidence to the House of Lords inquiry on food waste prevention last month:
“Has done more world leading work than any other UK organisation to put the issue of food waste at the heart of the political, business and media agenda.” Part of our impact is the evidence and information we have put on the table – our assessment is that by 2025 it could be possible to prevent up to another 15 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste.
That means that food worth a staggering £45 billion could be saved.
We have much more work planned this year.
In 2007, WRAP’s comprehensive household food and drink research broke new grounds, providing the what, where, why and how food was being wasted.
This knowledge empowered industry to have the confidence to make decisions on what areas to focus on to make meaningful reductions.
This year, WRAP will go one step further, with the launch of the next phase of this work, which will identify what groups of people waste different types of food and why, and looking at how much of this food is still in date and in pack.
The people and products work will offer ground-breaking insights into the world of food waste, which empowers us collectively to see where the problem areas are so we can take action.
So, once again we will have the right research…
And the right applications, such as Courtauld and Fresher for Longer as part of Love Food Hate Waste…
And the right partnerships – us here today… To achieve the right results.
All the ingredients for success. So our collective challenge is to be as good with this new research as we were with previous household food and drink waste work.
So what else are we doing this year?
Last year a recent Love Food Hate Waste campaign run by the London Waste and Recycling Board, GLA, WRAP and the West London Waste Authority helped residents reduce avoidable food waste by 14% in just six months, saving up to £8 for the Authorities for every £1 spent on the campaign. A welcome return on investment in these difficult times.
Over the next 2 years, this model will be rolled out by WRAP across 10 cities nationwide, creating more opportunities for significant food waste reductions in the UK. We will be talking to local authorities in those areas identified, along with retailers and brands to come together to deliver the campaigns making a real difference to communities and levels of food waste across the country.
There is more.
Based on the insights and evidence from the people and products report, we will be revitalising and reinvigorating the campaign and its messages taking Love Food Hate Waste to more people, more often in partnership and collaboration with you.
Keeping food waste at the heart of the debate is what will continue to do, but it will take collective action to halve avoidable food waste.
But WRAP is just one cog in the machine – all of you here today, the councils, businesses, industry groups, policy makers, have done terrific work.
Communities have come together around this issue, voluntary organisations, and charities. There is a ground swell that we must build on.
I could cite many examples of the terrific work already done, but let me just mention one that doesn’t get its fair share of plaudits. I believe food waste collections are key not just to helping councils avoid sending food to landfill, but also helping avoid food waste arising in the first place. They reinforce the understanding that food is a resource. Things going well isn’t news – I understand that. But I think it’s a crying shame there hasn’t been more attention drawn to the many local authorities across the UK which have introduced good food waste collections very successfully.
No riots in the streets. No running sewers. No weeping and wailing. In fact residents who understand why it is happening, get on with it with no fuss – and are very happy to.
Fresher for Longer
Looking ahead, Fresher for Longer has, in my view, a vital role to play in future food waste prevention.
It has inspired action through raising awareness of the importance of food packaging and effective storage to help reduce the amount of food we throw away.
Emma Marsh, who has done great work taking forward our Love Food Hate Waste campaign and led on the development of the Fresher for Longer communications, follows me this morning, and will delve further into some of those details.
So to pull this together – Great strides have been taken since 2007 to tackle food waste, and we can be proud of what has been achieved.
This reduction has slowed and we all have responsibility to make sure this trend does not continue.
There is a burning platform here to tackle food waste so we must seize the moment.
We have the power to halve avoidable food waste by 2025.
Together, the opportunity is ours to take, and together we must step up to the plate to turn this opportunity into fruition.
Thanks you for listening, I now hand over to Emma Marsh for more details on the exciting plans for Fresher for Longer.
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