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Blog June 2023

11 ways to fight food waste and shrink your carbon footprint

Food waste currently accounts for around a third of all waste in Ireland – that’s about one million tonnes of food waste per year! It’s a shocking statistic but quite apart from throwing your hard-earned money in the trash, it also has a huge environmental impact.

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Stacey Piggott

Senior Digital Marketing Manager

How does food waste cause climate change?

Food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because, as it breaks down, food releases methane, a potent gas thought to cause at least 28 times more global warming than carbon dioxide. So much so, the UN tells us, that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China.

But it’s not just rotting food that causes problems. Growing food also uses valuable resources such as land and water, so when food is wasted, these resources are wasted too. 

In fact, roughly 28% of the world’s agricultural land is used to grow food that is simply thrown away leading to deforestation, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Similarly, around 24% of all water used for agriculture goes to produce wasted food, putting pressure on water-stressed areas.

All along the supply chain, food production requires energy to farm, fertilize, refrigerate, pack and transport goods. It’s also required to collect and convey waste to landfill, so when less food is wasted, less energy is squandered from start to finish.

If that’s got you thinking about reducing food waste, good news: your efforts will help to create the sustainable food system our planet needs to feed a growing population, but that’s not all – it could also cost you less.

How does food waste impact your finances?

Imagine throwing €700 straight into the rubbish bin every year. That’s the amount spent by an average Irish household on food that ends up in landfill. It equates to a hefty 80kg per person.

It’s a depressing thought, yet many households regularly throw away unused or expired food such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products, and meat. When food is discarded like this, the money spent to acquire it is wasted.

And it’s not just your food bill that takes a hit. Unfortunately, food waste contributes to rising grocery bills for shoppers across the country as the expenses incurred in producing, transporting, and disposing of wasted food are passed on to all consumers.

Faced with these statistics it’s no surprise that the Irish government has committed to halving food waste by 2030 as part of its Climate Action Plan. Not only will this help reduce the environmental footprint of food waste, but it could also alleviate the financial impact of food waste on the nation.

So, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to put a strain on earnings, it’s time to revise your purchasing habits and get creative with those leftovers. 

11 ways to fight food waste

You can help reduce the harmful impacts of food waste by following these simple tips:

  1. Plan your meals: plan meals in advance and create a shopping list to help you buy only what you need. This can also help cut down on those impulse purchases that may go to waste.
  2. Cook smaller quantities: Ignore the ‘buy one, get one free’ deals and cook only what you can realistically consume to reduce the likelihood of leftovers.
  3. Store food correctly: Maintain freshness and extend shelf life by using appropriate storage for different food types. Keep perishables in the fridge and use airtight containers for leftovers.
  4. Follow the FIFO rule: Use the ‘first in, first out’ rule to ensure you consume older foods before newer ones to avoid finding expired foods at the back of your cupboard or fridge.
  5. Understand date labels: Remember, ‘best before’ indicates quality, while ‘use by’ relates to safety. Use your senses and good judgement to determine if food is still fine to eat.
  6. Love leftovers: Find creative ways to use up any leftovers such as putting cooked vegetables in soups or stews and turning stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs.
  7. Freeze excess food: If you can’t eat it in time, freeze surplus food for later. This will extend the lifespan of many foods and can also save you time.
  8. Share with others: When you have extra food that you are unable to consume, share it with family, friends, or neighbors, or donate it to local food banks or charities.
  9. Compost your scraps: A compost bin is a great way to turn food scraps and non-edible food waste into nutrient-rich soil for use in gardens or potted plants. In line with EU (European Union) regulations, the Government supplies brown bins for composting to every household and business in Ireland.
  10. Educate others: Talk about your efforts to reduce food waste. This can encourage others to participate as well as providing an opportunity to share tips and strategies.
  11. Use technology: Download the Too Good to Go app or visit the website to explore local shops and restaurants that have surplus food to sell at low prices. Great for reducing food waste and food bills in the current cost of living crisis!

By adopting these simple strategies, you can play an important role in minimizing food waste and creating a more sustainable food system (as well as reducing your weekly shopping bill).

So, take a moment to look through the list and see how you could do things differently because small changes really can make big a difference in the fight against food waste!

AMCS has been on the forefront of supporting our waste and resources customers with the technology required to fight food waste including tags to support pay by weight billing on brown food waste bins, online portal solutions to help educate customers about how to reduce food waste and artificial intelligence-based solution to identify contamination in food waste bins.. Learn more about our Resources and Waste Management solutions here. 

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