We were certainly all running and talking in circles – positive circles that is - in October. People were marking Recycle Week with the Big Hunt for items that are being dumped in the black bin, but which could be recycled – such as shampoo bottles and plastic food trays – and it was Circular Economy Week in London. To top it all, we at WRAP launched with eBay the Circular Change Council addressing the mounds of discarded home furniture, 20% of which could have been reused. It was all yet another sign that we are on the cusp of the circular economy – championed by major brands as well as community initiatives - becoming mainstream. I am excited about this growing alternative to the old-fashioned economic thinking, offering a positive vision of change, and of the future. So, imagine my shock to discover that the circular economy has its own very old-fashioned, backward-looking prejudices!
Today is the fourth International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste (IDAFLW). So, it seems only fitting to not only raise awareness of the massive global issue of food waste, but also to highlight some of the amazing action that WRAP and our international partners are taking to tackle consumer food waste around the world.
In November, UN member states, businesses, and NGOs will descend on Nairobi, Kenya for the next phase of negotiations that will shape the Global Plastics Treaty. But for the Treaty to have any teeth it must addresses the entire lifecycle of plastics. A comprehensive, circular economy approach based on the waste hierarchy and framed through the lens of SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production. With elimination, prevention and reuse prioritised.
This will require new radical thinking looking at whole systems change, and this is no more evident than in the world of reuse. How do we create a new system that is easy and convenient for people to embrace in their everyday lives.
This is where our work with UK Plastics Pact members is showing the way. Collaborative partnerships, in a precompetitive space, working together to solve one of the trickiest problems we face shifting to a circular economy for plastics.
Brown trout hunt the clear waters of the small River Nar. Rare and globally important, the Nar meanders through the downs and fenland of north-west Norfolk and is one of a number of rivers deemed a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), due to its unique transformation from chalk to fenland river. Farming stretches around, with over 75% of the catchment under arable and pig farming across the valley. Food production relies on clean water, we rely on these same catchments for drinking water, and nature needs them to maintain a rich biodiverse ecosystem. But the strain is showing as across the UK rivers are dying and the ecosystems they support are being compromised by intensive agriculture.
Who collects the waste after it leaves your home, and where does it go? The answer might be easy to trace in a country like the UK, where I live – public services are strong, and I see the waste truck pass on a regular basis. Large trucks collecting recycling belay the reality in many other countries, however.
We’ve all been there: standing stupidly by the supermarket check-out, staring at our receipt, wondering how the bill could possibly be so high. No wonder when inflation for food and drink hit 19.2% in March 2023, the highest in 45 years. These price increases are largely driven by the on-going war in Ukraine, impacting energy prices and disrupting supply chains, compounded by climate change – including severe droughts in many important food-producing nations.
In November 2022, a quarter of UK citizens were concerned about being able to buy enough food, with 71% reporting changes to how they buy, store, manage or use food as a result.
The donation of surplus food for human consumption that cannot be prevented within the food system addresses several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, yet, according to the Global Foodbanking Network (GFN), only 1% of surplus food is donated globally.
How do we draw from international practice and enable food donation to be fully integrated into a systemic approach to tackle food loss and waste at increased scale and impact?
Life consists of stages and occasions which define our identity, attitudes, and behaviours. We are constantly evolving, transitioning, and adapting as individuals and communities to the world around us.
Does the evolutionary nature of our lives and taking time for introspection provide an opportunity to consider our personal impact on the environment and influence our behaviour towards food waste reduction?
Through the WRAP Courtauld Commitment 2030, 76 food businesses are committed to cutting the absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the UK food system by 50% by 2030 (from a 2015 baseline). On paper, current odds would seem stacked against this ambition.
With climate change beginning to affect the UK’s fruit farmers, we take an in-depth look at one of our collective action projects where a simple solution is helping to ensure we can continue to enjoy the taste of the British summer.