What is BOL doing about food waste?
Food waste: its’ a problem…A real problem. Why? In this country alone we waste between 7  and 10  million tonnes of food annually, most of which could have been eaten. To put that into context: we thrown out around 24 million slices of bread alone each day, amounting to 900,000 tonnes a year.
Why should we care? The environmental impact. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WARP) estimates that UK food waste contributes 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. When food is wasted it most often ends up in landfill where it begins to decompose and releases methane: a greenhouse gas 34 times more powerful that carbon dioxide.
If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third biggest emitter of greenhouse gas after the US and China. The difference between food loss and waste? Waste happens at the consumer level (stores, supermarkets and our homes); loss, on the other hand, usually occurs in production and processing.
The cost associated with food waste is around £700 per household a year, a figure further worsened when seen in the context of household income: 8.4 million families in the UK struggle to put food on the table. Reducing our collective food waste would have the fortunate byproduct of a financial gain. From composting to repurposing leftovers to making sure we don’t discard perfectly good foods, we as consumers are taking matters into our own hands to reduce waste.
Although at least 50% of all food waste occurs in the home , the remaining 50% sits with producers, supermarkets and manufacturers. Businesses have a responsibility to significantly reduce waste. From resizing and re-portioning to sending food to charities, UK supermarkets and retailers are joining the fight against waste.
As a food business, we have both the opportunity and responsibility to make sure we are making a difference. There are three key areas we’re working hard in to make sure we keep our waste to a minimum.
1. Sourcing: wonky veg (also known as ugly veg).
These funny-looking vegetables have recently gained the public’s attention, and with good reason. It is startling to learn that up to 40% of a crop can be disregarded simply because it looks “different”  . We source 100% wonky carrots and peppers. In 2018 alone we will be using 32 tonnes of wonky carrots and 17 tonnes of wonky peppers. We love being able to use these in our pots and are always looking for new opportunities to expand our wonky veg use.
2. Production partners: zero waste to landfill.
Food loss is something that can happen at any point in the production process, and we make sure we are minimising it at the source. Being zero waste to landfill means our production partners make sure that cardboard goes to paper mills, glass gets melted, plastic is repurposed and food offcuts go to composting rather than landfill.
3. Charity soup drops: giving to those in need.
As a food business, it is inevitable that at times we find ourselves with excess product. When these opportunities arise, we work with local charities to make sure our soups make it safely to a kitchen in need. To-date, we’ve donated a cumulative 3.5 tonnes of food to Dover Soup Kitchen, Brixton Soup Kitchen, the Felix Project and FareShare. That’s 12,000 portions of veg we are very proud of (our favourite metric of success).
We embrace the fact that there will always be opportunities to improve further. From increasing our use of wonky veg to sourcing seasonally and locally where possible, there is still work that can be done.
We’re also making little adjustments in our office such as adding a composting bin. It’s a small thing, but we know that for change to be effective every step counts. If you have ideas on how we can further reduce our food waste or know of amazing charities we should be working with, make sure to tweet us @BOLfoods.
Till next time,