According to statistics from the EPA, more than a quarter of all the food produced in the world is wasted every year. In Ireland, the amount of food waste in 2021 was over 700 thousand tons of food, 29% of which came from households. This equals to 44kg of food per person (about half the weight of a full brown bin), or €700 of losses per year. That’s an annual national cost of €1.29 billion. Food waste not only has impacts on the economy and food security but also contributes to climate change. Globally, food loss and waste contribute to 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Ireland has committed to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. We can all contribute to this goal, following the waste hierarchy from the EU’s Waste Framework Directive.
The first thing we can do is prevent it. This means to try and avoid producing waste in the first place. Try and buy only the food you are going to eat and avoid plastic packaging if possible. The next step would be reuse: to donate or redistribute your excess food, so it can feed someone else instead of becoming waste. Talk to your neighbours, charities, or local authorities, to see how you can contribute in your area.
Following in the hierarchy is recycling. Make sure to properly segregate waste amongst the different bins. Make use of putting food waste in the brown bin, not the general or recycling bins. And clean off all the food out of your recyclable items such as plastic containers, before putting them in the recycling bin! If you want to make a commitment as an organisation, you can sign the Food Waste Charter which is a public commitment by companies and organisations to recognise and address the issue of food waste. More information here: https://stopfoodwaste.ie/
Food waste is not the only issue during the holiday season. According to Repak, in 2022 Ireland was expected to generate 97,000 tonnes of packaging waste last Christmas. So, we can also contribute to reducing plastic pollution. Try and avoid buying presents with unnecessary packaging. Instead of buying new bags or bows, use some paper to wrap your presents! And if you do get plastic wrappings and packaging, make sure it’s recyclable and then put it in your recycling bin!
This Christmas season, we can all contribute to reducing our impact on Ireland’s environment.