Food waste reduction project hailed a success

A project to reduce food waste in County Durham is celebrating great success.

Sainsbury’s Waste Less, Save More (WLSM) project targeted individual households and communities to reduce waste and increase food redistribution.

Community groups worked with volunteers, visiting local businesses and supermarkets collecting unwanted food. Collected food was then put into community fridges. Over 4,552.5kg food was redistributed to 1,187 visitors between November 2017 and May 2018. One community fridge user said: “Fantastic idea – I made three to four meals with food which would have been wasted”.

In another initiative, Durham University students were encouraged to take Student Welcome Packs including kitchen tools, recipe booklets and storage tips. In the post campaign survey, 60 per cent of students claimed they had reduced their food waste. Seven County Durham households were also provided with kitchen kits, advice and cookery sessions as part of a Zero Waste Kitchen Challenge. On average, participants saved £11 per week on food bills and reduced their food waste by 2.4kg.

The Olio food sharing app used technology to encourage food distribution. A six month trial of the app, involving 30 volunteers, engaged seven businesses, 1,017 users and 480 items of were food shared. ‘Feeding 1,000’ events, organised by REfUSE, fed 1,250 people and engaged 54 volunteers.

Overall, WLSM showed great potential for bringing communities together in reducing food waste.

Rachel Gatland (pictured) said: “This campaign has helped raise awareness of reducing food waste in homes and businesses and has brought a variety of people across communities together”.

Sainsbury’s WLSM programme was delivered following a successful £35,000 funding bid from The County Durham Food Partnership and Durham County Council, in partnership with REfUSE, Shildon Alive, The ALT Group, Durham University and Durham Community Action.