We continue a full national operation to get food to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Fight food waste, protect our planet

Why is food waste an environmental problem?

Currently, at least one-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted.1

When food is wasted, all the energy and resources used to create that food are wasted too. This is a huge problem for people and the planet.

If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third biggest greenhouse gas emitter, behind China and the USA.2 To make matters worse, if that food ends up in landfill it produces methane – a greenhouse gas up to 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide.3

In the UK, food waste accounts for between 6 and 7% of total greenhouse gas emissions.4 An estimated 2 million tonnes of the food wasted on UK farms and in factories every year is still perfectly good to eat when it is disposed of.

FareShare’s impact

Redistributing surplus food is the most environmentally, socially, and economically friendly thing we can do with it. On average, charitable food redistribution from supermarkets emits 17 times less CO2e than the next best option – conversion to animal feed.5

An investigation of FareShare’s environmental impact by the Carbon Trust found that redistributing food avoids the waste of 9 times more CO2e than is emitted by our operations.

For every tonne of food FareShare redistributes:

  • We prevent the waste of 1.6 tonnes of embedded CO2e emissions
  • We save 1.5 million litres of embedded water from being wasted

A food system that works for everyone

Our food system will need to make major changes if we’re going to feed everyone sustainably. Reducing food waste is a crucial part of the solution.6 By getting the best use out of food that’s already been produced, we can help create a food system that works for people and the planet.

In the UK, 1 in 8 people go hungry, while about 1.3 billion meals worth of good-to-eat food is wasted every year instead of going to charities. The UN estimates that just one quarter of all the food that is wasted could feed the world’s 870 million undernourished people.7

Redistributing good, fresh surplus food to charities allows us to avoid both needless waste and needless hunger. We can keep edible food out of landfills and help reduce the pressure to grow more food while supporting people struggling with food poverty. That’s a win-win for people and the environment.

“The benefit for people and for the environment is really double-edged. For some people it’s the difference between whether they eat or not, and for others it’s a sense of doing their environmental duty, which helps to create a sense of community for everyone and reduce stigma.”

Helen Innes, the Community Fridge Co-ordinator at the Old Bathhouse in Milton Keynes

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How we work out our food waste figures

190,000 tonnes of surplus food that could be eaten goes to waste in the UK every year from retailers and manufacturers (Source: WRAP 2020). That’s 452 million meals worth of food.

Around 3.6 million tonnes of additional food surplus and waste is generated in UK farms and fisheries – known as primary production – every year (Source: WRAP 2020). Even if just 10% of this food could be redistributed this could create around 850 million meals a year.

[1] https://ourworldindata.org/food-waste-emissions

*FareShare achieves this by avoiding food disposal from retailers and producers as well as through the avoidance of additional food production including energy, water and packaging. This figure also takes into consideration FareShare’s own carbon footprint.