With eight to ten per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from food waste and twenty-five per cent of food produced wasted, reducing food-related waste is one of the most effective actions we can take to combat climate change.
This was the clear message that emanated from a recent Shannon Chamber seminar at which experts who are focused on encouraging businesses and individuals to pay more attention to preventing rather than disposing of their food waste gave some stark insights into the make-up of Ireland’s annual 800,000 tonnes of food waste.
“Households account for 241,000 tonnes of that waste, the process and manufacturing sector, 219,000 tonnes, followed closely by restaurants and food services, 178,500 tonnes, with the primary production and retail and distribution sectors having lesser impact,” stated Odile Le Bolloch from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Waste Prevention Programme.
“Food is too good to waste,” she said.
“In wasting food, we are wasting the embedded resources that go into making that food,” she added, as she encouraged seminar attendees to change their approach to food through planning their purchasing and storage of food, and using, rather than throwing out their leftovers”, she added.
Outlining the range of resources available to assist individuals and businesses reduce their food waste, including general information and policy developments on the EPA’s website, a business resources section on the food waste charter website containing measurement guidance, reports, and fact sheets, and a consumer-facing campaign on the stop food waste website, she enumerated the benefits businesses can derive by reassessing their food waste actions.
“By measuring and identifying potentially preventable waste, businesses save money and reduce waste bills, and address customer demands for sustainable food sources and reduced carbon impacts. The benefits are manifold,” Ms Le Bolloch added.
Other speakers at the seminar included Leonardo Piccinetti, managing director, Sustainable Innovation Technology Services (SITES) Ltd., and Maria Lima Toivanen, an expert in innovation, international cooperation, and innovative territorial development, who reported on the findings of cross-European research undertaken between December 2020 and November 2022 to promote and eduate people on food waste. The outputs from this research, which include materials and downloadables such as gamification educational approaches, can be found at www.euzerowaste.com.
The wellbeing manager at the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point, Bernard Cahill, gave a powerful demonstration of food waste prevention in action in this very popular Co Clare hotel as well as the overall sustainable practices being undertaken by the hotel’s 200 staff.
With a wide range of projects underway, such as waste water treatment, banning the dosing drains, signage and training, chemical-free cleaning, replacing blue cleaning rolls with reusable cloths and saving, not dumping, boxes, Mr Cahill singled out the Armada Farm where the hotel grows all its organic produce, the compostable outdoor area and the switch to compostable containers, tubs and stickers in all facets of the business, and the removal of single-use plastic throughout the hotel as playing a significant role in the reduction of the company’s carbon footprint.
Encouraging other businesses to plan and test their sustainability practices, he said:
“We have a clear plan for reaching our target of a twenty per cent reduction in food waste in the hotel by 2026. Our goal now is to attain certified B corporation status, which is awarded to businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.”
Complementing all speakers on the wealth of knowledge they shared and their passion for creating a better planet, Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes said: “The message has come across loud and clear; the onus for reducing food waste rests with everyone. We need to change our habits and use the many resources available to us to do so. Shannon Chamber will play its part in fostering a culture of sustainability in the region. As the presenters concurred, we are dealing with climate disaster, not climate change.”
Further information on how to prevent food waste can be found at:
Stop Food Waste – Reduce your food waste and save yourself money!,