We throw away a massive seven tonnes of food and drink in the UK each year – and more than half of it is still perfectly edible. As this is a problem that affects every household in the country, Sainsbury's wanted to work with the families of Swadlincote to see if there was some way to solve this problem and save people money at the same time.
Six families were given a trial run of an app called Winnow. This identifies how much and what type of food is being thrown away. It also calculates how much that waste costs.
Our testers were shown how quick and easy it is to use – documenting the type of food and then weighing it before it hits the bin. Over the course of a month the app totals up the entire amount of food wasted in each household.
The trial was a huge success. In just a month, the app helped the families reduce more than 68 per cent of their food waste. Alongside noting down all the waste food, the families were also given tips on how to make use of what they were going to throw in the bin. Each household discovered that, over the course of a year, they could save up to £268 a year.
Looking at the data on the app, we managed to identify that the most commonly wasted foods were fruit and vegetables. The reason most food was wasted was simply because too much food was cooked for a meal, or the portions were too big.
We suggested smart ways for people to make their food go further and to cut back on food waste. These ideas included making dishes from old food – like using stale bread to make panzanella (Italian bread salad) or bread and butter pudding – puréeing or freezing leftover food, and sometimes opting for canned or frozen food over fresh.
It was a thumbs up from all the families involved. Mum-of-six Paula Chapman said: “It really made you think about what you were throwing away. The kids got really into it too, and there was a friendly element of competition. They’d make sure they ate all their packed lunches so we didn’t have to throw anything away! It helps teach them the value of food.”
As people are being shown the real value of the food waste in their own homes, it makes them more likely to take action – and keep at it in the future, too.
Now, we want to bring on board more households to take part in the great Waste less, Save more campaign. We’re hoping that, in time, it won’t just be the people of Swadlincote using the Winnow app to tackle the food waste problem, but the entire nation. And the best bit? We're all going to save money as we do it.