Food waste becoming global issue

Ireland produces one million tones of food waste annually while food poverty is on the rise



8 April 2013

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Food waste in Ireland still poses a major problem, especially when it exists alongside food poverty. The issue of food waste affects every step of the food chain; from farmers being forced to discard cosmetically ugly fruit and vegetables to supermarkets dumping short-dated stock. From there, it extends to households buying too much food and restaurants serving over-sized portions.

According to Tristram Stuart, author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, Marks & Spencer in the UK instructs it’s sandwich supplier, Hain Celestial Group, to discard four slices from every loaf it produces, the heels and the adjacent slices, for quality control reasons. This adds up to 13,000 slices of freshly baked bread every day. It’s estimated that 30% of food produced for human consumption is either lost or wasted across the global food system. Ironically, M&S is one of the better retailers when it comes to food waste, recently implementing a series of tighter controls which has seen its waste drop by 40% since 2009. The retailer also stipulates that none of its waste, either here in Ireland or in the UK, ends up in landfill.

Research commissioned by the Department of Social Protection in 2010 indicated that one in 10 people in Ireland were living in food poverty, up from 7% at the height of the boom. Other surveys suggest it may be as high as 15%. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Ireland produces one million tones of food waste every year, comprising of half a million tones of agricultural waste or surplus with the remaining half a million tones split between commercial and household waste. Odile Le Bolloch, head of the EPA’s Stop Food Waste programme says "there’s no one solution to this problem. There’s going to have to be a major rethink at all phases of the food chain." The StopFoodWaste programme was established in 2009 in response to Government policy to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. Through a combination of education, training, peer example and easy to use information the StopFoodWaste programme aims to raise awareness of the issues around food waste and to promote home composting all over Ireland.



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