It’s been a privilege to be guest editor of The Grocer this week, and I have been encouraged to see so many good examples of businesses finding new ways to grow sustainably. In a sense, this special green issue is a celebration of all that we are doing as an industry to reduce our carbon footprints - and it is a lot.
However, it also serves as a timely prompt for us all to pick up the pace - not only because it is right for the planet but because it makes good business sense. More and more companies are realising that the only possible growth model is one of green growth - growing sustainably in all senses of the word. This is certainly our belief at Unilever.
Sceptics, who have condemned environmental concerns to the back seat, need to take heed of the findings in The Grocer’s latest research. It is increasingly clear that ‘green’ matters to consumers, and striking that reducing food waste tops the list of the most pressing issues for them - although perhaps that is not such a surprise, given UK homes throw away £12bn worth of good food and drink every year, costing the average household with children almost £700 and food waste is associated with producing 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
There is something profoundly wrong with this situation, especially when, at the same time, four million people in the UK are estimated to be suffering from food poverty, with about 700,000 children arriving hungry at school each day, as families struggle to put food on the table.
There is a lot for us all to do to help prevent food waste in the first place - from being inspirational with leftovers to working with organisations like FareShare. There is also an intriguing article about a new breed of “Wombling entrepreneurs”, who make good use of decent rubbish. However, recycling consumer food waste lags far behind other recycling initiatives.
Surely it is time to collaborate and act - and time for the government to establish a more unified waste collection system, as a priority, across the UK.