Six top tips for reducing food waste

Every year UK consumers waste 4.5 million tonnes of food. This heavily contributes to CO2 emissions, yet many consumers do not realise the connection between food waste and climate change. Back for its 18th year, Recycle Now’s annual Recycle Week running from 20 – 26 September 2021, is encouraging consumers to contribute towards tackling the climate crisis.

To support the event, we are sharing our six top tips for reducing food waste in your home, the workplace and in the environment.

1.    Separate food waste at home

Separating food waste is an easy way to recycle food. From 2023, all households in England should have a separate food waste collection organised by their council.

Separating food waste means it can be used in anaerobic digesters to generate energy. Food waste which is not separated from general waste rots in landfill and produces methane, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and damaging the climate.

Alternatively, many types of food waste can be composted at home, to provide nutrients in the garden.

2.    Store food correctly

Make sure food is stored correctly to increase the shelf life and longevity of the products. Use airtight containers and freeze perishable goods which aren’t going to be used immediately, as well as separating fast-ripening fruit and vegetables which produce ethylene, such as bananas, to prevent them from spoiling other products.

3.    Understand labelling

Many consumers do not understand the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates. Use by dates indicate when a product is no longer safe to eat. This differs from best before dates, which are a guide to how long the product will be at its best but has no reflection on when it’s no longer safe to eat. Understanding this fundamental difference in dates can reduce the amount food waste that we generate.

4. Bulk cook meals and freeze

Bulk cooking and freezing meals will reduce waste from half-used tubs and pots where the product is perishable. Often consumers will buy ingredients where only part of the product is needed for their recipe. By doubling up the ingredients and batch cooking, there is less food waste and pre-prepared meals in your freezer. A win-win!

5. Plan your meals and use a shopping list

Planning meals ahead of going shopping and using a list when purchasing food will help to reduce overindulgence and waste. Make sure to check your cupboards when writing a shopping list to ensure you don’t buy products which you don’t need as this will result in more food waste.

6. Always check the packaging

It’s not just food that generates waste. Often the packaging around food is also a big contributor to the climate crisis. Always check the packaging to see whether it’s recyclable or whether alternative packaging can be used. For example, is there a paper bag to put your fresh groceries in, instead of a plastic bag? Can you use a reusable cup for your morning coffee? If you’ve only purchased five items, do you need a bag?

These are six easy steps which every UK household can follow. For more information on Recycle Now’s Recycle Week and how you can contribute to tackling climate change, click here.