Food waste is a pressing global issue, with significant environmental, social, and economic consequences.
As students at Edinburgh University, everyone has the opportunity to play a vital role in reducing food waste both on campus and in our everyday lives.
By understanding the causes and impacts of food waste and implementing practical solutions, we all can contribute to a more sustainable future for our community and beyond.
Have a read through our handy blog to see quick-fire ways you can start making a difference now.
The consequences of food waste
The consequences of food waste are multifaceted and far-reaching.
Environmentally, food waste contributes to greenhouse gas emissions through the production, transportation, and disposal of uneaten food.
Socially, it exacerbates issues of food insecurity and hunger, as resources that could have been used to feed those in need are wasted.
Economically, food waste represents a loss of valuable resources, including water, energy, and labour, which could have been invested elsewhere.
How is food waste currently recycled?
In the UK, food waste is most commonly recycled through anaerobic digestion – a process where bacteria breaks down organics in an oxygen-deprived environment.
Waste collection companies like Keenan Recycling use anaerobic digestion at their facilities to turn food and garden waste into compost, or into biofuels which are then sold to the energy grid.
Reusing our food waste has many environmental benefits, besides just avoiding methane emissions. ‘For example, our compost gets sold to farmers, who then plough it into their fields, which encourages carbon sequestration,’ says Grant. ‘Also that [compost] is displacing chemical fertiliser, which is made from fossil fuels and often travels huge distances.
In other words, properly recycling food waste can have a huge effect and actually benefit us all for the better.
Challenges to food waste at the University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh University, like many educational institutions, face challenges in managing food waste effectively. Large-scale dining operations, diverse dietary preferences, and fluctuating demand contribute to the complexity of the issue.
However, there are also significant opportunities for students to make a positive impact through awareness-raising, advocacy, and practical initiatives.
Ways you can help now as a University of Edinburgh student
Get involved in menu planning
Did you know that the University of Edinburgh has a Good Food Policy whereby they periodically ask students for their input on food related initiatives like menu planning and food waste?
Don't miss your chance to let your voice be heard. Get in contact with them today.
Download food waste champion apps
Apps like ‘Too Good to Go’ have revolutionised the way we think about food and their untimely fates in supermarkets and shops.
Psst… Brucks Street Kitchen is on this app, so don’t miss out!
Invest in a ‘Keep Cup’ and never throw away your drink again!
Head over to the University store to purchase a handy, reusable cup. You’ll be doing your part for the environment and strutting around the campus with a trendy water bottle! Stanley Cup who?
Final thoughts on the future of food waste
What is the future of food waste?
We spoke to food waste expert, Grant Keenan MD of Keenan Recycling, on the future of food waste and what truly counts as recyclable. Grant states:
‘You can have the fanciest technology in the world, but if it doesn’t comply with the legislation, then it’s no good,’ says Grant. ‘We have to look through a different lens to see what tech is emerging and how that can potentially change the world. And then it’s a case of legislation keeping pace with the technology.’
One final thing: don't forget to head over to Pawprint and sign up to our platform. There you will find over 600 eco-actions that will help you better understand and even reduce your carbon footprint!
We have actions spanning from cooking vegan meals to opting for 2nd hand shopping, no stone is left unturned!