What is Food Waste?

‘Food Waste’ is food that is fit for human consumption that is lost, uneaten or wasted. This can happen at all stages of the food system during production, processing, distribution, retail, food service sales, and consumption.

Food waste is a national problem on both a commercial and individual scale with 9.5 million tonnes being wasted in the UK alone. 6.6 million tonnes of this waste comes from UK household’s and is declining rapidly, decreasing by 18% between 2007 and 2018. Changing attitudes and education towards food waste has been a driving force for the decline. The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact with people becoming more conscious of use-by dates, pre-shopping planning more often and eating more leftovers. This resulted in the lowest ever household food waste figures at 13.7% and people having developed new practices for managing their waste more sustainably. 

Commercial industries make up 16% of UK food waste. Food manufacturing isn’t 100% perfect, and some food isn’t fit for sale. This can lead to high quality food being wasted when it could otherwise be used more effectively when recycled. 

The vast majority of food waste will end up on a landfill site where it will degrade over time and contribute significantly to global warming. Producing, packaging, transporting and food rotting away on landfill sites contributes to 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But does this have to be the case? 

 

Waste management in food industry | Mobius
Typical foods that get thrown away

 

How to manage Food Waste?

There are many ways in which food waste can be managed at different stages of its life cycle. 

  1. Feeding People: The first approach is to distribute excess food to people who need it most. Imperfect produce and food getting closer to the end of its shelf life can be redistributed to people by charitable organisations. 
  2. Feeding Animals: Animal Feed is a key element of managing food waste. Commercial waste which isn’t able to be sold to people can be transformed into a nutritious feed for animals, or pets, ensuring value from this food isn’t lost.
  3. Feeding back into the system: Plate waste and partially consumed food is perfect for composting and anaerobic digestion which can produce both fertilizer for soil and gasses feeding into the energy grid.

 

How can Mobius help with your Food Waste Management?

Mobius is a total waste management business, specialising in providing services to the food manufacturing industry. Food waste management is one of our primary services helping manufacturers deal with food and co-products at its source. 

We work closely with our parent company SugaRich, food recovery specialists, to recover surplus materials and turn them into nutritionally balanced animal feed blends which are environmentally friendly, cost effective and increase productivity. 

The benefits of transforming food into animal feed are plentiful. Environmentally, these ‘alternative’ feeds remove a huge volume of waste from landfills and in so doing reduces carbon emissions from decomposing food releasing methane into the atmosphere. Economically, it reduces costs for farmers as feeding animals on a co-product, alternative animal feed is cheaper than traditional feed. There is also the additional benefit that alternative feeds have on reducing carbon impact. Traditional feeds carry a significant carbon impact compared with alternative feeds, therefore the use of alternative feeds in the place of traditional ones has a net effect of reducing carbon production.