As January is coming to an end, it has become obvious that waste reduction is becoming a trend in the UK. I attended my first zero waste business launch on Thursday. On the same day, a zero waste pop-up restaurant called Tiny Leaf opened its doors in Notting Hill. And it's not just a London phenomenon. In Leicester, a new vegetable box scheme promises to reduce waste by delivering wonky vegetables at a low price.
|All the bakery items at the event had been donated by Gail's bakery. |
They were collected by volunteers.
But back to London and to the Day Old launch. It was a bit of a rare occasion - a breakfast launch where you were actually encouraged to have breakfast! It wasn't one of those breakfast media events where you feel a bit of a freeloader for having an entire croissant. And then you are left wondering where all the uneaten muffins end up. Torture.
Have your bread and eat it
Rescuing day old bread and bakery items is actually the mission of Day Old. All the bread, scones and cakes available on the launch had been supplied by Gail's bakery, a London chain of artisan bakeries. People were even encouraged to leave with a box of free day old treats to take into the office as a way to advertise Day Old's business. I left with an entire loaf.
The new social enterprise, created by six women from all over the globe, has already organised lunchtime pop-up stalls at a couple of big companies and also did the catering for an office Christmas party. Their aim is to create a secondary market for bakery products. The profits generated will go to charities tackling child hunger in the UK.
Rescued treats, Toast ale and other ways to reduce food waste
Bread is the most wasted food in the UK, as Abi Ramanan from Day Old reminded people at the launch. Even if Day Old just scratches the surface of the ocean of food waste created by the 24 millions of slices of bread binned in the UK each day, it will be significant.
There are different routes to tackle food waste. A beer brewed from fresh surplus bread has just been launched. Toast ale is a new beer crafted by Tristam Stuart, the founder of Feed the 5000. In France it is possible to buy "le pain de la veille" (yesterday's bread) in certain bakeries. My parents did recently buy a nice sourdough at a reduced price in Montpellier where they live. It's a simple but very effective way for a baker to reduce one's surplus. However, what works for sourdough doesn't necessarily work for other bakery items. Hence, the necessity to have businesses such as Day Old.
When will the UK have a food waste bill?
We need all those initiatives to tackle food waste - and more. A UK food waste bill is critical to taking the food waste battle to another level - supermarkets would be under the obligation to donate surplus food. Fifteen million tonnes of food was thrown away in the UK in 2013. It's one THIRD of the 41 million tonnes of food bought annually. Only 2% of this food is currently redistributed to charities.
The bill put forward by Kerry McCarthy MP was supposed to have its second reading at the House of Commons yesterday. It has been postponed. Meanwhile, France is about to vote its food waste bill next Wednesday. Let's hope that it will incentivised the government on this side of the channel to follow suit. If French people can reduce food waste, surely British people also can do it, can they? ; )