dash team gleaning apples with feedback

Source: Dash Water

Members of the Dash team gleaning apples with food waste charity Feedback

This year has already seen plenty of wins in the fight against food waste: from Aldi extending its partnership with Too Good To Go, to Oddbox shooting past a multimillion-pound crowdfunding target. At Dash, we were thrilled to play our part when we closed our £9m Series A in January.

But there are still systemic issues holding the UK back from making food waste a thing of the past. Saving millions of meals from going to waste is essential work, but why is so much food at risk of going unused in the first place?

More stores partnering up with food waste apps is great in the short term – in the long term, the ideal would be to have almost no need for such partnerships. But as long as a huge amount of food grown in this country never reaches our plates, and waste all along the supply chain goes unmanaged, that won’t come to pass.

So how can we get better in 2023? In three ways: transparency, regulation, and education.

Transparency is still limited for many suppliers and businesses in the UK. How much food they waste, including what gets ‘counted’, can be difficult to calculate. A WWF report last year showed the scale of the UK’s food waste problem may have been massively underestimated. Standardisation and openness across the board are critical.

Regulation needs to play its part here. Last year, the government announced a consultation on stipulating tangible targets for companies to reduce their waste. But progress has been snail-like. It would be incredibly useful to see stronger leadership from Defra on embedding sustainable food practices in British business, especially as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

Finally, education. We as consumers are responsible for over 70% of food binned in the UK. This won’t change until we all have a clearer understanding of the realities of food waste, and see ‘wonky’ foods as just as good as more conventionally shaped alternatives! Just like putting health warnings on cigarette packets, it’s better education that truly catalyses change.

The deep-rooted issues underlying food waste won’t be fixed overnight, but 2023 is a chance to show initiative. The problem starts with us. And with better transparency, regulation and education, it can end with us too.