Five steps for reducing food waste

December 05, 2022

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how to reduce food waste

Food waste is a global socio-environmental issue. ​​One-third of global food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. That amount would feed the planet’s undernourished population more than twice.

Wasting food also means the wasting of all resources that went into producing it. Feeding landfills instead of people harms the environment and produces high amounts of damaging greenhouse gases. As much as 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food waste.

Each one of us can help reduce food waste and help build a more sustainable future, and this article is designed to guide you in doing just that.

Note: the food waste hierarchy included below is based on the guidelines of leading institutions such as the European Commission and the EPA. It ranks the actions in order of preference, from most to the least sustainable.

1. Prevent food waste 

The best defence is a good offence, and prevention is by far the best way to fight food waste! As a bonus, you’ll be saving money on food.

Buy less. Check your fridge and pantry before going grocery shopping. 

Plan meals ahead. Know the foods and quantities you actually need.

Make a grocery list. This also saves you time and money. Check out our healthy grocery shopping list with precise quantities!

Organise your fridge and pantry. Check the expiration dates regularly and bring forward the items you need to consume first. 

Store food appropriately. Read the food labels and store items accordingly. Check your fridge or freezer’s manual to avoid spoilt food and cross-contamination. You can also read: how to store fruit and vegetables or storing food in the freezer.

Understand the difference between “best before” and “use by” dates. Food may lose some appeal after the “best before” date but is usually still safe to eat.

Embrace “ugly” food. Double-yolked eggs or misshaped (“wonky”) vegetables are perfectly safe to eat. Overripe fruits are perfect for smoothies or desserts.

Reduce portions if your family is prone to lots of leftovers.

2. Re-use or donate food

Save and use leftovers. Leftovers are usually safe for up to a few days. Check out our post on leftover recipes and get some more tips on reducing food waste. 

You can also make breadcrumbs or croutons out of stale bread or use fruit scraps for infused water.

Donate excessive food. Donate the unspoilt food you know you will not be able to eat before it expires. Check with your local food bank or food rescue operation for more information.

Food banks generally accept non-perishable foods in their original, unopened packaging. These may include cereal, rice, pasta, granola bars, peanut butter, cooking oil, juice and canned products like beans, soup, meats, fruit, pasta sauce, etc.

3. Reuse food waste as animal feed

Donate food waste for animals. Many types of food waste can be used for feeding animals, but restrictions apply to protect human and animal health.

Contact a local farmer and find out if you can donate your food waste to them. Think through which kind of food waste, how much and how often you can donate for it to be cost-effective for the farmer.

Or contact local waste services or your local government for information regarding if and how they gather food waste for animal feed.

You may also be able to donate leftover food, surplus garden produce or food scraps to local zoos or pet food producers.

4. Recycle food waste

Sort your waste. Separate organic waste from the rest of your rubbish and recycle it to prevent it from reaching landfills.

Learn which items you can throw into the bio-waste bin from our blog post on choosing and using a food caddy. Check your local guidelines, as the list may vary depending on the recycling processes used in your area.

Recycling plants can use food waste to create natural fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics,  biogas, and fuel to generate electricity.

Compost. You can compost most of the food waste that recycling plants do. Use the compost for fertilising your house plants, flower beds, lawn or vegetable garden.

If you can’t compost at home, explore community gardens.

5. Incineration

Incineration and dumping in landfills are the lowest levels of food waste management and should therefore be avoided as much as possible.

Incinerating will recover some of the energy contained in food waste, but the process is often ineffective and polluting.

Food waste dumped in landfills harms the environment and produces methane. 

How does Bolt Market reduce food waste

Like you, at Bolt, we want to do whatever we can to help reduce food waste.

That’s why we created Sustainability Bags, and the “♻️Save food, save money” category in Bolt Market.

These bags contain a random selection of foods that are near their expiration or best-before dates and have at least a 50% discount.

The bag may include products from the following categories: 

  • Baked goods; 
  • Fruits and Vegetables; 
  • Dairy and Eggs; 
  • Meat and Fish; 
  • and ready-to-eat meals.

We currently offer two Sustainability Bags —  one with meat and fish products and one without.

sustainability bag
Sustainability Bag

Our Sustainability Bags are a nice way to help the environment, save money and bring some random excitement to your meals. You never know what you’re going to get! 

Where possible, the Sustainability Bags that we don’t sell the same day are donated to food banks and all expired products are disposed of in accordance with local laws and regulations.

Download the Bolt Food app, open the Groceries tab and look for the “♻️Save food, save money” category in your nearest Bolt Market. Please note that the category disappears once the Sustainability Bags are sold for the day.

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