Consumer: Is the anti-food waste revolution here?

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An online initiative could be the answer to halting our shameful record on wasting food.

SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s is hoping to lead an anti food-waste revolution.

The company has linked up with Google to create a website that gives customers recipe ideas from a list of leftovers, in a bid to cut food waste.

The interactive Food Rescue tool allows users to input up to nine ingredients languishing in the fridge or cupboard, in turn presenting them with recipe ideas ranging from suppers to snacks.

The site uses voice search technology, and searches are compiled into a live leaderboard that compares the efforts of consumers from different regions around the UK.

Figures from the Government’s waste reduction advisory body, Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap), suggest that 4.2m tonnes of consumable food and drink is wasted each year in the UK. And, according to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, almost 50 per cent of the total amount of food we throw away comes from our homes.

However there is hope that attitudes are changing - and Leeds is already blazing a trail in reducing food waste.

A ‘pay as you feel’ cafe in Leeds - which uses the city’s food waste to feed its customers - has been going from strength to strength.

Adam Smith’s cafe, The Hub in Armley, uses unwanted food to cook for the masses - who then pay what they feel it is worth. By February this year the cafe - part of the wider ‘The Real Junk Food Project’ - had saved one tonne of food from going to waste,.

Leeds has also successfully trialled food waste recycling brown bins in two areas and recently bid for £17m of funding to expand the project divert around 96,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill over the next five years.

Although hat bid did not succeed, other efforts remain ongoing.

Google searches for recipes using leftovers have actually increased by a third on last year, with 64 percent made via mobile devices.

Sainsbury’s marketing director Sarah Warby said: “Shopping habits have really changed. Families are savvier than ever, looking for practical help to make the most of the food in their cupboards and fridges.

“We know that confidence and know-how can really help people reduce the amount of food they throw away. We’ve created Sainsbury’s Food Rescue with Google to inspire people to turn the food items they already have into something delicious.”

Google’s head of agency marketing, Donal MacManus, said: “More British people than ever are online and this growth is driven by tablets and smartphones. The average household in the UK has 3.1 devices - the highest in Europe.

“Using our voice search technology, the Food Rescue tool allows Sainsbury’s customers to use up the food that they might otherwise throw away. Simply say what ingredients you have left and discover simple inspirational recipes.

“Whether you are on the way home thinking about what’s for dinner, at the supermarket lacking inspiration or in the kitchen, the tool will help you save and get better value for money by not wasting food.”

Emma Marsh of Wrap’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign said: “Our research has shown that one of the main reasons that we throw away food from our homes is because we don’t get around to eating it before it’s gone past its best.

“We’re delighted to have worked with Sainsbury’s helping customers to reduce their food waste with the launch of Sainsbury’s Food Rescue. It’s a fantastic tool which can help everyone to make the most of their forgotten foods and leftover ingredients by providing some tasty recipe ideas.”

Users can access the tool via the following URL: Sainsburys.co.uk/FoodRescue.

Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and we are determined to support food retailers, industry and consumers in their efforts.

“This new tool is a great initiative and will make it easier for households to avoid creating unnecessary food waste.”

If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.

LOVE FOOD, HATE WASTE

According to campaigners, more than half the food we throw away is still consumable. Wastage costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children - around £60 a month.

Food wastage accounts for FOUR percent of the UK’s water footprint. We throw away more food than packaging.

Between 2007 and 2012, avoidable food waste reduced by 21 per cent. The reduction - over 1m tonnes - would fill 23m wheelie bins.

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