Every year tonnes of edible food is thrown out in Ireland. Now the country beginning to feel the impacts both environmentally and economically.
In Ireland, over one million tonnes of food waste is disposed of each year with around one third of this coming from Irish households.
Every home in the country is responsible for one tonne of food waste, costing each home between €400 and €1,000 every year.
Of all the food thrown out by Irish household 60 per cent is classified as avoidable food waste, such as plate scrapings, leftovers, and rotten fruit and veg.
However, Ireland is not the only contributor to food waste, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) calculates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted each year, directly contributing to food shortages, water stress, unnecessary biodiversity loss, and increased greenhouse gas emissions with 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 being released every year.
Around 1.4 billion hectares of land, equivalent to 28 per cent of the world’s agricultural area or 200 Irelands, is used to produce food that is then lost or wasted.
As a result of all this, the economic losses associated with global food loss, excluding seafood, are estimated to reach €550bn a year. This at a time when the global population is getting ever bigger and putting a huge strain on the existing food supplies.
To combat rising global food waste locally, a zero waste movement is emerging in Ireland with shops striving to remove excess packaging and unnecessary large portions of perishable food to combat food waste.
Owner of Small Changes Wholefoods store Drumcondra Peader Rice spoke to The College View about food waste in the country.
“It’s a huge problem, the fact that there if food being produced and being wasted when there are so many people living in poverty.”
“Then of course you have the environmental impacts of food being dumped and methane gas being released.”
Rice blames the way supermarkets package and sell food to the public as one of the reasons for food waste.
“One of the huge problems is the way food is sold, you might be living on your own or have a small family and when you go into the supermarket, things like carrots might be sold in three or four kilo bags. But you may very well use only three or four carrots and the rest sit in the fridge or on the counter, goes off and eventually dumped.”
“The whole idea of convenience, and everything being prepacked, that is where the problem has arisen from.”
“The way that supermarkets and chains market their foods like buy two or get one free and you think that it’s a bargain, but you mightn’t necessary use all that.”
The Meath native said that all it takes to lower food waste in the home is planning, determination and buying only what you need in bring-your-own-container stores like Small Changes.
“Prepare, look and plan, it takes a bit of time and a bit of effort. For example my wife at the beginning of each week will plan out the meals and buy accordingly to suit that.
Also people can shop in places like small changes, if you want one Kiwi you can buy one Kiwi, if you want two potatoes that is what you get. Everything here is loose.”
“Around 40 years ago, this (Small Changes) wouldn’t have been the exception, every shop would have been like this. Our teas and coffees are loose. People used to come in and ask for so many pounds of tea, they can do that here, only we measure in grams now.”