Is mitigating food waste the key to the net zero recipe?

By Harriet Lindsey, Paper Round 

We’re Paper Round – the business recycling experts. This means that we are extremely well placed to discuss all things waste and climate related.  

We know that the title was a bit of an excuse to make a food-related pun, but in actual fact, the sentiment isn’t so silly at all. 

Food Waste 

Less than a third of people in the UK are aware of the link between food waste and climate change  – so, let’s get ourselves educated and nourished with all that glorious food that we shouldn’t be throwing in the bin.  

It is estimated that about a third of all the food produced is wasted. That is a mind-blowing amount. To put this into context, this wastage could provide enough calories to feed every undernourished person on the planet. 

Oddbox’s Wasteland

Looking at it in another light, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Oddbox have named this country Wasteland, and are calling on us to #WipeOutWasteland. 

Wasteland doesn’t only represent a humanitarian crisis, but also an environmental one. This shows that if made an unanimous effort to clamp down on food waste, the ecological benefit would be mammoth. Let’s break down the reasoning behind this.  

 Food Waste and the Environment  

1. Resources not wasted:  Farming is an energy-intensive business which produces harmful greenhouse gases. Think about all the water, energy, labor, machinery, transport and packaging required for your food to end up in the fridge. When you throw this in the bin, you also waste the associated resources. Furthermore, food waste indirectly contributes to climate change due the loss of carbon sinks, like forests and grasslands, to create land for crops and grazing. Fight food waste means these valuable resources aren’t wasted, making the food industry.  

2. Food directed from landfill: More often than not, food waste ends up in a landfill site. Here, due to the lack of oxygen, the matter rots and releases methane. This potent gas is 80 times more powerful at warming the Earth than CO2 over a 20-year period. Reducing food waste negates methane production, land clearing, leachates (toxic substance) production which in turn helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, habitat and biodiversity loss, and soil degradation. 

Food Waste and Net Zero  

This movement (check out our COP26 blog) has taken the world by storm. It marks global recognition that something must be done, and quickly. Various bodies, including countries, governments and businesses have set targets with deadlines to propel them towards more sustainable practices.  

Food waste accounts for a mammoth 10% of the world’s total greenhouse gases. This shows that mitigating food waste is a key piece of the puzzle to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to help us fight climate change.  

At Paper Round, when news broke about the Restaurants Net Zero Initiative, we were thrilled. It provides a fantastic framework with tools to facilitate the essential move towards net zero. To help the industry on their way, we’re delighted to share our SustainABLE PathwayHere, we have investigated the vital role that commercial waste and recycling plays in achieving real carbon reductions for businesses. It details our 10 commitments, which set out how we will achieve a low carbon, net zero future by 2030, and the way we can support other businesses to achieve their own carbon reduction objectives. To find out how we can help you, download our free white paper here.

We have been working with our good friends at Wahaca for 9 years. They are a member of the SRA and have been leading the way in restaurant sustainability. In 2016, they were certified carbon neutral, and are looking to go even further with our help. To date, we have helped them achieve recycling rates of 86%, offered them a zero waste to landfill service and segregation their waste into 5 streams amounting to approximately 5,000,000 tonnes of CO2 saving.  

All our services have sustainability at their heart and are perfectly suited to support the restaurant and hospitality sector. This includes various stream recycling services, such as mixed (or Paper, cans and plastic containers as we like to call it), food, coffee grounds, coffee cups, cardboard and Vegware. Furthermore, we go deeper than the basics and get involved with training and communications, floor walks, workshops, recommendation and improvement reports.

 Get in touch with our help desk to discuss more with us on 020 7407 9100 or [email protected] as we would love to collaborate on the fight against climate change.  

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