Programming Note: This week, we featured our Food Hero on World Environment Day. Please click here to read our interview with Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland.
Ireland is serious about putting an end to food waste. Historically, Ireland is no stranger to famine, so the country’s efforts in tackling food supply challenges head-on are not surprising. Currently, the Irish throw out nearly 1 million tons of organic waste annually. In 1999, the European Union established the Landfill Directive to significantly reduce landfilling of organic waste. In accordance with the Landfill Directive, Ireland developed a new national waste management plan that incorporated recycling and composting of food waste. And in 2010, the Irish government enacted strict new regulations that emphasize composting and separating food from other waste, and require businesses to implement significant food waste reductions. What sets Ireland apart, however, is the work it has done to encourage food waste prevention publicly.
Launched in 2009, Ireland’s foodwaste.ie is a source of information and tools that companies and individuals can use to decrease their food waste. For example, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency published a guide called “Less Food Waste – More Profit” that details specific strategies for purchasing, storage, and preparation for companies to implement to reduce food waste. The website also provides specific case studies of companies that are implementing innovative strategies to reduce food waste like food portion control, and other tools such as studies on improving food purchasing practices, software to help guide food purchasing, and food waste education campaigns.
Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency’s National Waste Prevention Programme launched the STOP Food Waste campaign to help individuals and families reduce their food waste. The campaign emphasizes prevention through “rethinking” – rethinking how to shop, rethinking how to store food, and rethinking how to cook and reuse food – and provides tips and guides for people to follow.
Food waste is a growing problem, but one with readily available solutions. There are a multitude of opportunities when buying food, preparing it, and storing leftovers, for businesses and individuals to reduce food waste. Legislation and campaigns like those in Ireland are taking steps to prioritize food waste prevention and reduction, and to increase education on the issue.