UK firms continue to lead in reducing food and beverage-related waste

U.K.-based firms continue to lead the charge in reducing food and beverage-related waste. There have been several developments in recent times aimed at reducing food waste.
Oliver Weber,

Asda’s recent campaign against domestic food waste drove positive behavior change among its customers; Frugalpac launched a new hot beverage cup that is made from recycled paper and can be recycled in any normal paper or cardboard facility; and egg processing plant Just Egg found a way to redirect its eggshell waste.

Asda undertook a series of multi-channel actions based on customer insights, including providing shoppers with advice on food storage, labeling and leftovers recipe inspiration, as well as hosting in-store events where shoppers were encouraged to make changes at home. Asda undertook the actions in association with the University of Leeds.

“As a major food retailer, we have a responsibility and the ability to bring about large scale change when it comes to tackling food waste. By partnering with the University of Leeds, the team has been able to take our insight and really explore this area, meaning that we now have a greater understanding of customer attitude and behavior, helping shape the way we communicate with our customers and ultimately the way we do business,” said Asda’s chief customer officer Andy Murray.

“However, our commitment to food waste doesn’t end here. While helping our customers live more sustainably is a step in the right direction, we understand the importance of addressing this issue throughout our entire supply chain. This is just one of many initiatives we are undertaking as we aim to tackle the issue in collaboration with everyone from our customers and suppliers, to our colleagues’ in-store,” said Mr. Murray.

The latest Asda 2016 Green Britain Index revealed that 85% of the respondents look to retailers to help them reduce food waste at home. About 93% of Asda customers care about “being green,” and 72% admitted they had stopped buying a product because they found it would go to waste, said the index.

Asda and other supermarkets have initiated efforts to reduce food waste amid widespread activism against food waste in the UK after it was found that the country was the worst-performing European nation in terms of food waste in 2015.

Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has also used his show to raise the issue of coffee cup waste. It is estimated that less than 0.25% of the nearly 3 billion paper cups used every year in the UK are currently recycled. His campaign prompted the packaging industry and major coffee retailers to launch a Paper Cup Manifesto in June 2016 with the objective of significantly increasing paper cup recovery and recycling rates by 2020.

“It’s great to see Hugh’s campaign has had such an effect and that there’s now a real commitment across the industry to tackle this problem. People were shocked to learn that existing paper cups are only used once and rarely get recycled,” said Frugalpac’s CEO Martin Myerscough.

Frugalpac’s newly launched cup is competitively priced and performs just like a conventional cup, but with half the carbon footprint and the ability to be disposed of in any paper or cardboard recycling bin, said Mr. Myerscough.

“The unique way we make our cups allows us to use recycled paper and not virgin cardboard from mature trees. It also means we don’t have to add waterproofing agents to the paper. Our cups are acceptable to all normal paper mills,” Mr. Myerscough said. “We really hope that Frugalpac becomes the standard in the industry so people can get on with enjoying their coffee without worrying about what damage the cup does to the environment afterwards!,” Mr. Myerscough said.

The way Frugalpac cups are made allows them to be recycled up to 7 times.

“The Frugalpac cup has the lowest carbon footprint. This is due to its recycled content as well as its recyclability at the end of its life. The conventional cups have higher carbon footprints because they are made from virgin paper and currently cannot be recycled in normal UK municipal waste streams,” said a report by product testing and certification company Intertek.

Meanwhile, egg processing plant Just Egg hard boils and peels about 1.5 million eggs every week for snacks such as egg mayonnaise and Scotch eggs, leading to huge amounts of shells that must be disposed of. Pankaj Pancholi, owner of Just Egg, said that the disposal of shells costs him around £50,000 a year.

In 2012, Pancholi teamed up with Professor Andy Abbott and scientists at Leicester University to find a cost-effective and sustainable way to recycle the shells.

Since then, an eggshell processing plant has been built as an extension of Just Egg’s existing factory, which allows them to be treated and turned into powder quickly enough to avoid rot. The eggshells pass through on a conveyor belt, are chopped up with blades and are washed and treated with a water-based solution to remove any lingering egg protein. Further blades reduce the shells into a fine powder, which is dried to become the filler.

Mr. Abbott believes that the eggshell powder will be a big cost-saving opportunity for businesses.

Polypropylene plastics are £2,000 a tonne, said Mr. Abbott, adding that so you can save a fortune by putting 30 to 40 percent of eggshell in there as a filler.” Mr. Abbott’s team is also working on a similar eggshell waste project with Freshpak, a Barnsley-based sandwich filler company that boils 5 million eggs a week.


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