Food waste ‘costing millions’

People in one Kerry town have discovered that there’s more than just waste food in their bins — there’s lots of money that could have been better spent.

An RTÉ documentary to be screened next Sunday will look at how much food the Kerry town throws out. [Waste Watchers, Sunday, 6.30-7.30pm, RTÉ One]

After measuring their food waste, most people in Killorglin, were surprised at how much they were actually wasting.

Helped by Stop Food Waste, they changed how they planned their meals and shopped.

Presenter, Philip Boucher Hayes, who witnessed the transformation, believes there are millions of euro in bins that should be in people’s wallets.

“I’ll admit I was initially pretty sceptical about how much of it could actually be diverted back to our wallets. I shouldn’t have been. Because, if the whole country copied what the people and business of Killorglin have done, there’s hundreds of millions of euro waiting to be put to better use.”

A national survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stop Food Waste programme found temptation gets in the way of good intentions.

People appear to be more conscious of reducing food waste by planning meals (46%) and making shopping lists (54%) but almost seven out of 10 (67%) say they bin food because they don’t use it on time or it is past its use-by date.

Spokeswoman for Stop Food Waste at the EPA, Odile Le Bolloch, said shops want people to buy lots of stuff and use design and product placement to tempt them.

“Simple things like making a list and not shopping when you’re hungry can help you buy only the food you need,” she said.

The survey found people are getting better at using up leftovers with 45.35% always using up leftovers and 42.1% occasionally doing so.

Ms Le Bolloch said the freezer was a lifesaver for food such as bread, meat and fish.

When asked how much their food waste cost, 88% said less than €50 per month, a figure that ties in with the general estimate of €700 a year.

However, when householders in Killorglin made a concerted effort to measure their food waste in a separate bin and fully cost it out, the figure tended to be higher. There was also the additional cost of shopping and the energy used for storage and preparation.