While food waste may have failed to make it onto the main agenda at the recent climate change talks in Paris, it did find pride of place at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.
In fact, a new global movement, Champions 12.3, was unveiled with a mission to mobilise global action to halve food waste by 2030. A very bold but praiseworthy aim.
The campaign will be spearheaded by Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis. Alongside him, will be an array of 30 big hitters including USDA secretary Tom Vilsack, Nestle Chief Executive Paul Bulcke and Unilever CEO Paul Polman.
Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has said that solving food waste is the ‘defining challenge of the 21st Century’. So it’s fantastic news that there is now a global taskforce preparing to do battle with food waste and the causes of food waste.
It’s perhaps ironic that it’s business leaders who are now leading the charge. But they are alive to the economic argument for reducing the obscene amount of food (a third of all that’s produced) that never makes it to its intended target – the human stomach.
It’s perhaps also not surprising that the campaign group has been recruited by campaigner and author Tristram Stuart, who is the first to acknowledge that while supermarkets, including Tesco, have been pariahs, they are now leading the way on cutting waste in their own supply chains. In fact, Tesco is the only major supermarket to publish details annually on its own waste.
Good to Go in Inverness
Meanwhile, there’s another excellent initiative to report – admittedly on a much smaller scale. Diners in Inverness should have no qualms about asking to take home any restaurant leftovers. The Scottish city is at the heart of Zero Waste Scotland’s Good to Go scheme – making diners feel more comfortable about using a doggy bag.
The campaign follows a successful pilot in 2014 which showed that diners would be much more likely to accept the offer of a doggy bag, rather than having to ask for it – as 40% said they were too embarrassed.
Ylva Haglund, food waste campaigns manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said:“The great thing about Good to Go is that we know that it delivers results. There’s really no reason for people to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about asking to take their leftovers away with them.
“Of the 16 restaurants in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Irvine and East Kilbride that took part in the pilot campaign, the average food waste figure fell by 42% as diners took home their leftovers – and 92% of those stated that they later ate the leftovers. Our research showed that if restaurants across Scotland routinely offered doggy bags to customers, it could save the equivalent of almost 800,000 full meals going in the bin every year.”
Matthew Bohdaniec who runs The Mustard Seed restaurant, one of the top-rated restaurants in Inverness, which recently signed up to Good to Go, said: “Of course, in an ideal world, we would prepare only what’s required in the first place – but in the restaurant trade it can often be very difficult to predict differing appetites. As part of Good to Go, our staff will politely encourage diners to consider taking away any food they can’t manage to eat during their visit.”
So while Champions 12.3 will work on the big global picture, Good to Go in Inverness is a reminder to us all of what we can do in our daily lives to tackle food waste head-on.