Hubbub’s Community Fridge Network secures funding for national expansion

Environmental charity Hubbub's Community Fridge project to reduce the amount of food waste generated in the UK looks set for a national expansion, after the charity secured £160,000 in National Lottery funding.

The Big Lottery Fund announced that the world’s first Community Fridge Network had secured funding that would enable the project to place 50 new fridges in communities in 2018 and more than 70 over the next three years.

“As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we’re excited about the potential impact of this scheme,” the Big Lottery Fund’s managing director James Harcourt said. “We’re proud that National Lottery funding will give even more people the chance to bring this fantastic idea to life in their local area.

“While the Community Fridge Network offers a simple but effective solution to food waste, more importantly it’s a great opportunity for people to make a difference by coming together to tackle an issue that matters to their community.”

Through the network, communal fridges are filled with surplus food from local businesses for surrounding communities to access free of charge. The Community Fridge Network was launched in July 2017, with the first fridges placed in Milton Keynes, three areas of North London, and across Northern Ireland.

It is hoped that the network will cut back on the £16bn of food discarded by UK households and the hospitality sector annually, which has an adverse impact on household food bills and the UK’s carbon emissions.

The network has been supported with funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, North London Waste Authority and The Funding Network. Fridges have been donated by Bosch, while Sainsbury’s has been an advocate for the initiative since its inception.

Hubbub’s chief executive Trewin Restorick added: “It’s astonishing that so much edible food ends up in the bin. A Community Fridge is such a simple way to make sure healthy, perishable food gets put to good use and it serves a much wider role in bringing communities together. 

“We’d love to see these in place right across the UK and we’re particularly keen to hear from people in the South West who would be interested in joining us.”

Waste less, save more

The Community Fridge Network took some best-practice learnings from Sainsbury’s own community fridge pilot, which was launched in Swadlincote last year as part of the Waste less, Save more programme. The programme has seen 9,000 items of food redistributed in the town in seven months.

Sainsbury’s invested £1m into the Derbyshire town on a range of food waste initiatives. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have signed up to the supermarket’s campaign to reduce food waste across towns and cities. These existing community projects, which are also located in Frome and Brixton, are in the process of joining the new network of 30 fridge locations.

Earlier this week, WRAP announced the names of the 24 new signatories to its flagship Courtauld Commitment 2025, which aims to tackle food waste and emissions in the food and drink sector. The organisation also outlined plans to tackle consumer food waste in 2018.

Matt Mace

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