Northern Ireland economy to benefit from collective action on food waste

21st November 2013

Food and drink business leaders, public sector and NGOs today gathered in Belfast to set about taking practical steps for collective action to reduce and prevent food waste, to the benefit of the Northern Ireland economy and its environment.

‘Too Good to Waste: Realising the Value of Food’, organised by resource efficiency experts WRAP, Business in the Community and Northern Ireland Environment Link examined the true costs of food waste throughout the supply chain from field to fork, and set out practical steps to reduce it.

WRAP research into the scale of household food waste in the UK found that the average UK home throws away the equivalent of six meals every week*, costing the UK £12.5 billion** a year or almost £60 a month to the average family.

Today WRAP completes the picture for the hospitality and food service sectors too, showing that more than 1.3 billion meals are wasted annually, with the sector’s food waste bill totalling £2.5 billion***.   

Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP, said;

“Our research shows that despite good work being undertaken both with household food waste and that of the hospitality and food service sector, there is much more that can still be done. Wasting food is quite literally wasting money, so I urge business and industry across Northern Ireland to work together to tackle this costly issue.”

The conference also addressed how building a more efficient circular economy****, can help to deliver a more competitive industry that creates jobs and sustainable growth.

Dr Goodwin continued:

“The evidence suggests that building a more resource efficient circular economy will help us deliver a more sustainable future and I intend WRAP to be at the heart of delivering the vision here in Northern Ireland, in the UK and beyond.”

Edward Wright, Sustainability Director with Business in the Community, said: “This isn’t just a consumer issue, it’s a serious business issue too. Being efficient in every aspect of business is essential and tackling food waste is one area in which a big impact can be felt by making a few simple changes.

“Today’s high calibre speakers helped those attending understand how their responsible actions in managing food waste can come full circle for the benefit of their businesses.”

Speakers and Panellists at Too Good to Waste: Realising the Value of Food

• Mark H Durkan MLA, the Minister of the Environment;
• Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP;
• David Gavaghan, ARENA Network;
• Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive, NI Environment Agency;
• William Dukelow, Department of the Environment;
• Richard Mason, Corporate Responsibility Manager Asda;
• Declan Billington, Agri-Food Strategy Board;
• Danny Millar, Balloo House;
• Jim Kitchen, Sustainable Northern Ireland;
• Emma Marsh, Love Food Hate Waste;
• Carl Nichols WRAP;
• John Durkan, Anglo Beef Processors; and
• Prof. Sue Christie, Northern Ireland Environment Link

Notes to editors:

• ‘Too Good to Waste: Realising the Value of Food is a joint conference organised by WRAP, Business in the Community and Northern Ireland Environment Link incorporating the WRAP Northern Ireland Annual Meeting. The conference takes place on Thursday 21 November at Belfast Metropolitan College Titanic Quarter Campus from 9:00am to 3:30pm during the European Week for Waste Reduction (16-24 November).
• Follow #2good2waste for live tweets throughout the conference
• *Assumes 500g per meal Household food and drink waste in the UK 2012 | WRAP UK
• **The £12.5 billion refers to the whole population; the £60 per month is for families with children Household food and drink waste in the UK 2012 | WRAP UK
• ***New report launched today - Overview of Waste in the Hospitality and Food Service sector
• ****The circular economy is sustainable economics: it is about using as few resources as possible and ensuring that those resources can not only be re-used, but re-used in a way which is regenerating and enhances the earth’s store of natural capital 

WRAP Northern Ireland
• To find out more about the work of WRAP Northern Ireland contact Ian Garner, Manager WRAP Northern Ireland on 028 9073 0193. WRAP Northern Ireland is funded by the Northern Ireland Government to deliver the Rethink Waste Programme. Its overall aim is to help drive increases in recycling and resource efficiency in Northern Ireland. WRAP Northern Ireland delivers a range of programmes, initiatives and other interventions to help people and organisations reduce waste and recycle more.

Business in the Community
• Is a membership organisation for successful companies committed to responsible business, encouraging them to be a force for good in society. It has a core membership of 850+ companies throughout the UK, including 80% of the FTSE 100. Over 260 of these companies are members in Northern Ireland and members employ 40% of the workforce in Northern Ireland. The President of Business in the Community is HRH The Prince of Wales and the Chair of the Northern Ireland Board is Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour. For more information please contact Helen Bowman, Communications Manager, Business in the Community on (028) 9046 0606 / 07714 755312 or e-mail