Around 7,000 homes are trialling technology that sits in the fridge and keeps fruit and vegetables fresher for longer as part of a scheme to combat food waste.
Technology developed by Norfolk-based firm Fresh Pod extends the shelf life of fresh produce by up to four times and can be used in household fridges as well as the commercial environment.
According to Fresh Pod, it is natural, 100% recyclable, approved for organics and works by neutralising ethylene, airborne fungal spores and bacterial rots.
A pilot to test the technology is under way in and around Bury St Edmunds after Fresh Pod teamed up with the local authority and Sainsbury’s came on board with £1 million worth of funding as part of its “Waste less, save more” campaign.
“We were excited to hear about Fresh Pod, as we know that technology can play a key role in wasting less household food waste and we look forward to hearing about the results of the trial,” Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, energy, engineering & environment, tells PBUK.
The aim of the project is to educate communities about food waste and participating households will be monitored over the next six months.
The average family household dumps around £700 worth of food every year, according to research by UK government agency WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).
As the issue of waste reduction becomes increasingly important throughout the supply chain, Sainsbury’s says it is helping explore ways of working with residents to reduce the huge amounts of food, including significant volumes of fruit and vegetables, that ends up being needlessly discarded.
Sainsbury’s has previously carried out a waste reduction pilot in Swadlincote in 2016.
"We've learnt a huge amount as a result of a 12-month pilot we did with Swadlincote. We now have a far deeper understanding of how to help households waste less food and save money, as well as the scale of the challenge,” adds Crewe.
"In addition to continuing to reduce food waste in our own operations, we set out our five-year journey to discover ways to help our customers reduce waste at home, where we saw significant reductions in the amount of food being binned and more money being saved.”
Commercial applications from Fresh Pod are already being used across British and European fresh produce sectors, according to company director Valerie Watson-Brown.
"It is really encouraging that Sainsbury's have got behind the issue of consumer food waste. It is shocking just how much fresh produce is thrown away. Getting Fresh Pod into the household fridge is a major hurdle for us and makes so much sense,” she said.
"The technology is already being used extensively across the UK and Europe in the commercial world and by getting to the end user we can now protect fresh produce from the point of harvest right through to when it ends up on a plate.
“Extending the shelf life by four times will make a huge contribution to reducing our carbon footprint and alongside that, cost savings will benefit everyone".