The UK is the epicenter of the circular economy movement, with both the public and private sectors making sweeping commitments and headway toward eliminating waste of all kinds throughout its economy.
Food waste is a particularly high priority: Since a 2015 study revealed that the UK is the worst-performing European country in terms of food waste, a host of initiatives — including TV shows, redistribution schemes, and edible solutions — have arisen, aimed at addressing the problem on both the consumer and commercial end. And just last month, the Scottish Government announced plans to reduce food waste by 33 percent by 2025.
But recent research by Approved Food, the largest online retailer of short-dated and residual stock food and beverages, has revealed a significant stumbling block where these efforts are concerned: More than 50 percent of people across Scotland throw away food that is approaching or past its best-before date despite it being perfectly safe to eat.
In response, the retailer has launched its #PerfectlyGood campaign in an effort to clear up confusion around best-before and use-by dates, which it asserts could save the region £50m — and countless pounds of food.
Waste not, want not
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“There is a lot of misunderstanding around food labelling and it can be confusing,” Cluderay said. “People are puzzled by what ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ actually mean, so it is little wonder that families are throwing away perfectly good food when they don’t need to.”
In a 2015 report, WRAP estimated that an increase on product life of just one day across a range of foods could prevent roughly 250,000 tons of food waste each year — in UK households and in the supply chain. But clearing up consumer confusion around these dates is vital for significant behavior change.
“We want to make sure people are thinking before they throw food away,” Cluderay said. “But until something is done to tackle this confusion we simply don’t see that the ambitious targets laid out by the Scottish Government are achievable.
“That’s why we are investing everything we’ve got in our new #PerfectlyGood campaign in a bid to raise awareness of the difference between best-before and use-by dates, to reduce waste and save the UK £50m.”
The campaign page provides detailed information and examples of the meaning and differences between “Best before,” “Use by” and “Sell by” dates along with tips on extending the life of your food purchases. Approved Food is inviting consumers to feed the campaign by posting pictures of themselves on its Facebook or Twitter pages with food that is still #PerfectlyGood to eat and the #PerfectlyGood hashtag.