How can we reduce food waste?
As the global population is estimated to rise to 8.5 billion by the year 2030, it is becoming increasingly difficult to produce and distribute enough food to meet demand. However, with food production already consuming 30% of the World’s energy and 10.2 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK every year, reaching demand without causing irreparable damage to the environment could be our greatest challenge in the next decade.
The UK Government have enlisted the help of supermarket and food manufacturing giants to halve food wastage by 2030. We explore the ways the food industry can achieve this target, increase sustainability and reduce climate change.
The development of new technology has led to huge advancements in the way we manufacture food. Automation of processes through the use of conveyor belts and sensors, can not only improve food hygiene, but also increase efficiency and reduce waste. Some companies have taken it one step further and added artificial intelligence to their production. Machine learning, when combined with a camera and smart scales, can recognise food that is being thrown away before it calculates the environmental and financial cost.
The plastic free movement has been gaining in popularity as the effects of plastic pollution becomes clearer. However, advancements in packaging can mean a reduction of food waste. For example, vacuum packaging has allowed the Co-op to extend the shelf life of steak up to 15 days.
Overall a reduction in wastage of food would lead to the same for plastics. One way supermarkets are working towards this is to improve the labelling on food. Adding instructions such as freeze up until the expiry date, changing ‘use-by’ to ‘best before’, and guaranteed recycling information will all have an impact. Other initiatives launched by sustainable-savvy supermarkets include the sale of misshaped or damaged fruit and vegetable for a reduced price and increasing the range of frozen food available.
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