Recent reports from Wrap state that the average UK household wastes £65 every month on uneaten food, which amounts to £1.7 billion every month across the UK’s 27 million households. Produce Business UK takes a look at how a new mobile application called EatBy could help to alleviate that problem
Across the world, around one third – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes worth over £261bn – of all the food that’s produced is discarded every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In the UK alone Wrap estimates that households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food each year – around one third of the 21.7m tonnes purchased.
A rough calculation tells us therefore that approximately 32% of all food purchased every year is not eaten in the UK. But the real cost is to the environment, says Wrap, which blames food waste for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3.3bn tonnes CO2.
Both the UK and the European Union have carried out research to better understand the causes of food waste and identify potential solutions. In January 2012, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to reduce food waste by 50% by 2020 and designated 2014 as the ‘European year against food waste’.
An extensive UK public awareness campaign called ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ has also been conducted and between 2007 and 2012, it is claimed the initiative helped householders to reduce avoidable food waste by 21%, saving some £13bn.
A new solution
When Scotland-based husband and wife Steffan and Barbara Lewis discovered how much food is unnecessarily wasted worldwide every year they became passionate about the global issue and made it their mission to change the way they shop for food and manage their kitchen.
They decided to develop a daily fridge management app called EatBy as a solution to the problem of forgetting food in the fridge. After working on the project from their home for over a year and a half, the app was launched on World Environment Day.
Now being touted as one of the “must have” apps of 2015, the developers claim it can help users save up to £700 per household every year and contribute to reducing food waste; thereby benefitting both the wallet and the environment.
“We had the idea one lunchtime after we had to throw out the food we’d hoped to eat because it had passed it’s use-by date,” says Barbara Lewis. “That led to a purge of all the out of date food in our kitchen. And quite frankly, we were shocked and disgusted with ourselves when we realised how much we waste.”
How EatBy works
EatBy users type, say, choose or scan their food items and select their use by dates, so they know what they have in their fridge and when to eat it by. The app then keeps track of the food that users have in their kitchens and reminds them to eat it before it goes past its use by date.
The app is free to download and use, plus it features an optional shopping list that can be activated with the app purchase to show users what they might need to add to their shopping list. The Android version was rolled out on June 5, and the Apple version will be launched before the end of this month [June].
“It’s important to us that the app’s basic functions are free in order to gain and benefit the maximum number of users,” explains Barbara. “Collectively, we can all make a huge difference to the environment. And it’s an added bonus that we’ll save around £700 each year.”
Many strategies for reducing food waste have been proposed by environmentalists, government agencies and industry specialists. But the husband and wife creators of the EatBy App claim their app will be the first practical and personal tech solution for the problem of food waste.
“It is a simple to use Smart Kitchen App that effectively helps manage the food in your kitchen and lets you know when food items expire,” they say. “The optional integrated shopping list will also help reduce buying too much food in the first place.
“We are under no illusion that our app will immediately solve this global problem,” continues Steffan Lewis. “But if only a few million people download and use it, then it’ll already make an impact and that’d be a great start. Obviously, we’d like everyone to use our app and benefit from it!”
More information about the EatBy project can be found here.