Our waste is growing at double the rate of our population with 52 mega tonnes generated a year. Australia is ranked 5th highest for generating the most municipal waste in the world. In this three-part series, Craig Reucassel is on a mission to see if we, as a nation, can all do a little bit better.
Runtime: 60 minutes
War on Waste - Food waste in the United Kingdom - Netflix
Food waste in the United Kingdom is a subject of environmental, economic and social concern that has received widespread media coverage and been met with varying responses from government. Since 1915, food waste has been identified as a considerable problem and has been the subject of ongoing media attention, intensifying with the launch of the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign in 2007. Food waste has been discussed in newspaper articles, news reports and television programmes, which have increased awareness of it as a public issue. To tackle waste issues, encompassing food waste, the government-funded “Waste & Resources Action Programme” (WRAP) was created in 2000. A significant proportion of food waste is produced by the domestic household, which, in 2007, created 6,700,000 tonnes of food waste. Potatoes, bread slices and apples are respectively the most wasted foods by quantity, while salads are thrown away in the greatest proportion. A majority of wasted food is avoidable, with the rest being divided almost equally by foods which are unavoidable (e.g. tea bags) and unavoidable due to preference (e.g. bread crusts) or cooking type (e.g. potato skins). Reducing the amount of food waste has been deemed critical if the UK is to meet international targets on climate change, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and meet obligations under the European Landfill Directive to reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill. Equally great emphasis has been placed on the reduction of food waste, across all developed countries, as a means of ending the global food crisis that leaves millions worldwide starving and impoverished. In the context of the 2007–2008 world food price crisis, food waste was discussed at the 34th G8 summit in Hokkaidō, Japan. UK prime minister Gordon Brown said of the issue “We must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste”. In June 2009, then Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the government's “War on waste”, a programme aimed at reducing Britain's food waste. The proposed plans under the scheme included: scrapping best before and limiting sell by labels on food, creating new food packaging sizes, constructing more “on-the-go” recycling points and unveiling five flagship anaerobic digestion plants. Two years after its launch, the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign was claiming it had already prevented 137,000 tonnes of waste and, through the help it had given to over two million households, had made savings of £300 million.
War on Waste - History - Netflix
Since the developments of 2007-8, food waste has continued to be a subject of attention, discussed in almost every major UK newspaper, often with issues such as climate change and famine in African nations. To reduce the impact of the aforementioned, food waste has been among the topics of discussion at recent International Summits; food waste was debated during the 34th G8 summit in Hokkaidō, Japan, as part of the discussion on the 2007–2008 world food price crisis. In June 2009, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the “War on waste”, new government plans aimed at reducing Britain's food waste. Planned is the removal of “best before” labels and the limiting of “sell by” labels on foods. New food packaging sizes are planned to be introduced, coming as EU rules on packaging sizes are lifted and people are increasingly living alone. Five flagship anaerobic digestion plants that will demonstrate “cutting-edge technology” are to be built before the end of March 2011; they will together receive a grant of £10 million from WRAP's “Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration Programme”. Liz Goodwin, WRAP Chief Executive Officer, said of the five projects: “These projects are truly ground-breaking. Between them, they demonstrate how anaerobic digestion can help the UK efficiently meet the challenges of reducing carbon emissions and improving sustainable food production.”
Food waste was identified as a problem in the UK as early as World War I. Combating food waste was one of the initial goals of the Women's Institutes (WI), set up in 1915, and remains a subject of their campaigns. Rationing was adopted during World War I, although it was voluntary, from February 1917; it was only between December 1917 and February 1918 that rationing began, in stages, to be made compulsory. As well, there is no evidence to suggest that by 1918 fines were imposed on either individuals or businesses for wasting food. Meanwhile, in the USA (where shortages were hardly comparable), legislators considered laws restricting the distribution of food in order to cut waste, breaches of which might be punishable by fines or imprisonment. During World War II, rationing was imposed almost immediately. Restrictions were immediately more stringent than in the Great War as with effect from 8 January 1940 ration books were issued and most foods were subject to ration. By August 1940, legislation was passed that made the wasting of food a prisonable offence. Posters encouraged kitchen waste to be used for feeding animals, primarily swine but also poultry. Many of the methods suggested by current campaigns to prevent food waste have taken inspiration from those of World War II. Despite this, it remains debatable whether the waste campaigns and rationing, during and post WWII, achieved any long-term change in people's attitudes towards waste; WRAP's report on domestic household waste found older people to waste as much avoidable waste as younger people. Further, as early as 1980, only twenty five years after all foods were “de-rationed”, a journal article published that year found significant levels of waste at home, in restaurants and in sectors of the food industry. However, the rising amount of food waste could also be attributed to a change of lifestyle, for instance the buying of produce which has a shorter shelf life, which would involuntarily lead to more food being thrown away. By the late 1990s, things had worsened, and the food manufacturing sector was estimated to be generating over 8 million tonnes of food waste annually. A documentary in 1998 revealed tonnes of edible food being discarded at a Tesco store, provoking a renewed response on the issue of food waste. In 2000, the government created the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a government-funded, not-for-profit company that advises on how to reduce waste and use resources efficiently. In 2007, WRAP launched the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign and returned food waste to the forefront of the news and public agenda. Two years later, the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign claimed to have prevented 137,000 tonnes of waste being sent to landfill and saved £300 million. In 2005, facing “limited information about the amounts and types of food waste produced”, WRAP launched a “major research programme” which would lead to the publishing of “The food we waste report” on 8 May 2008. Believed at the time to be “the first of its kind in the world”, the report interviewed 2175 householders and collected waste from 2138 of them.
War on Waste - References - Netflix