New initiatives from both the private and public sector aim to further chip away at the UK’s food waste issue, as the nation attempts to rebound from being designated Europe’s biggest food waster in 2015.
Kellogg's Cornflakes adding sweet touch to Throw Away IPA
First, adding to the list of UK companies turning waste into frothy, refreshing wealth (along with England's Toast Ale and Scotland's “Thorough Bread” amber), The Kellogg Co is now working to reduce its product manufacturing waste in the UK by sending less than stellar Cornflakes — rejected for being too small, too large, or too crunchy (read: overcooked) — to Manchester’s Seven Bro7hers Brewery; the “ugly” flakes now comprise up to 30 percent of the grain that makes up the new Throw Away IPA (the other 70 percent being wheat); the brewery says the Cornflakes sweeten the beer and add to its golden color.
A portion of sales from the IPA will go to food distribution charity FareShare, according to The Telegraph.
In 2017, Kellogg committed to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and to reduce food losses along its production and supply chains, by 2030. The company said that reducing food waste within its facilities represents approximately $30 million in potential cost savings, based on the cost of raw materials. The company has already reduced food waste from its UK sites by 12.5 percent this year, according to corporate social responsibility manager Kate Prince.
UK Gov eyeing food scraps for sustainable plastic packaging
Meanwhile, the UK could begin transforming household food scraps into environmentally friendly plastic bags and cups, thanks to up to £60 million of new government funding.
Innovators are being challenged to make the UK a world leader in creating sustainable packaging and reduce the impact of harmful plastics on the environment, as the UK seizes the economic opportunity inherent in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.
The funding, to be bolstered by industry support and delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, could help develop:
- new forms of packaging and plastic — made from farming, food and industrial waste, such as sugar beet, wood chippings and food scraps – moving away from oil-based plastics
- smart packaging labels — which, alongside a smart bin, could help consumers recycle correctly and revolutionize the way recycling is sorted in waste plants
- a ‘live’ sell-by-date patch — which deteriorates at the same rate as produce to show consumers when their food is going bad, cutting down on food waste
- reduce single-use plastics — increasing use of recycled plastic in new products
The funding is subject to industry entering into partnership with government and providing significant co-investment to this challenge. Businesses will be able to access the new funding through UKRI-managed competitions aimed at generating innovations in smart, sustainable plastic packaging.
Along with the investment in sustainable plastic packaging, the government has also launched a strategy to achieve world-leading standards for bio-based and biodegradable plastics.
A year since the UK launched its landmark modern Industrial Strategy — its post-Brexit blueprint for the economy — which sets out a vision for the nation to become a global leader in finding innovative alternatives to fossil fuel-based products, using sources ranging from the byproducts of whisky production to seaweed. This would enhance the UK’s position as beacon for investment in the bioeconomy, supporting innovation and stimulating economic growth.
“Finding innovative solutions to tackle our use of harmful plastics which blight our land and seas is a major global challenge, and opportunity — one our nation of researchers and innovators is fit to seize,” said Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry. “Today’s funding and sector strategy enhances our position as a global leader on improving our environment and tackling climate change. It will make us a beacon for design, manufacturing and exporting of sustainable plastics and environmentally friendly replacements for polluting products as we move to a greener, cleaner economy — a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
With £140 million already invested in sustainable plastics over the last three years, the UK government is committed to being a global leader in tackling the issue of plastic pollution, with a world-leading ban on **microbeads **and 5p charge on single-use plastic bags, which has seen distribution by major supermarkets drop by 86 percent. Earlier this year, it also launched its plan to ban the distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds to protect rivers and seas; and pledged to introduce a deposit return scheme do drive up recycling of single-use beverage containers, subject to consultation.
The UK government has also committed £61.4 million to boost global research and help countries across the Commonwealth stop plastic waste from entering the oceans in the first place.
Along with the government’s efforts, the UK private sector has led the charge in the global war on both food waste and plastic pollution, thanks in large part to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP):
- On the food waste front, WRAP has rallied food companies to take part in a growing number of initiatives — in 2016, the organization released an in-depth analysis of the UK grocery supply chain that revealed the 1.9 million tonnes of food wasted by UK grocery retailers and food manufacturers annually, and found that action to prevent food waste could save retailers £300 million a year. It went on to join forces with Unilever and Hubbub to launch a ‘Joint Ambition for a Zero Food Waste Britain,’ in an effort to create a diverse coalition of organizations committed to helping households better understand the value of food and reduce food waste in the UK; as well as launch behavior change campaigns aimed at improving Londoners’ food buying and eating habits, and initiatives to improve counterintuitive and confusing food-labeling systems.
- In April, WRAP convened 42 major food and drink brands, manufacturers, retailers and plastic reprocessors to form the UK Plastics Pact, aimed at eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (re-use) delivery models.