Neighbourly, a social media platform which connects local community projects to companies that want to make a difference, has launched a food-specific platform – Neighbourly Food.

The scheme allows charities and foodbanks to publicise their food requirements through an online portal, where businesses and supermarkets are able to offer thier surplus food depending on what it has available in regards to location, needs and expiratory date.

Marks & Spencer has already formed a partnership with Neighbourly that will eventually see 150 of the supermarket’s biggest stores pass surplus food onto a host of local charities.

People power

Neighbourly’s chief executive Luke McKeever said: “With over 288,000 tonnes of food wasted in the UK every week, UK business needs to play its part and do a better job of getting surplus food to the people who need it,” said 

“We make that process simpler and easier for both businesses and causes. Our aim is to recruit more causes around the UK as well as more donating businesses. The more people participate, the more effective we can be.”

According to a 2014 House of Lords report, the UK wastes 15 million tonnes of food each year at a cost of £5bn. UK supermarkets are also under increasing pressure to lower food waste after successful petitions and the momentum gained from TV series Hugh’s War on Waste.

The free sign-up not only lowers general food waste by re-distributing surplus resources but also reduces pressure on supermarkets by allowing them to form partnerships with particular charities and food banks.

The below infographic from the Farm Machinery Locator highlights some of the hidden issues with the UK’s food supply.

Farm Machinery Locator

Square pegs, circular economies

The launch of the platform comes at an interesting time in regards to food waste, after last week’s circular economy package removed a commitment to reduce food waste by 30% between 2017 and 2025.

The controversial move has received backlash from green campaigners with the Renewable Energy Association in particular, frustrated with the lack of support from governing bodies. This has led the REA to launch the Food Waste Push encouraging England to introduce mandatory food waste collection.

Jeremy Jacobs, technical director at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said: “Our discussions with councils lead us to believe that the collection of food wastes from homes and businesses makes business sense, not just environmental sense.

“Facing a lack of support from the European Commission on this issue we think it critical to push this cause and support a strong domestic biogas industry. It provides new incomes to many living in rural areas, is a growing source of employment, and enhances our sustainability.”

While governments seem intent on ignoring the issue businesses are coming together to create pioneering food waste programmes.

Pepsi, Unilever and WWF are among a collection of businesses and NGOs that have joined a new coalition organisation tasked with inspiring companies to adopt comprehensive food waste programmes.

Matt Mace

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