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Hubbub to expand UK’s Community Fridge Network

The number of food waste-banishing Community Fridges around the UK is set to grow to 100 by 2020 with National Lottery funding.

Behaviour change specialists Hubbub launched the Community Fridge Network in July 2017 to provide support for groups wanting to set up a Fridge in their community – a place where surplus food from residents and businesses, in danger of going to waste, can be left so that others can make use of it.

Hubbub to expand UK’s Community Fridge NetworkSince 2017, 50 Community Fridges have been set up across the UK, and Hubbub has documented their success, revealing that each Fridge is on average redistributing half a tonne of edible surplus food every month, with approximately 220 users. From November 2017 to November 2018, 95 per cent of the food donated to Community Fridges came from national and local retailers rather than local residents, with Spar, Sainsbury's, Morrison's, Waitrose, Co-op, Nando’s, Costa and Marks and Spencers all making use of the community service.

Food waste is a continuing problem in the UK, with the average family wasting £810 a year by throwing away edible food and drink. Total food and drink waste post-farm gate (from households, hospitality and food service, retail and manufacture) in 2015 was 10.2 million tonnes, according to figures from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). 71 per cent of that waste was from households, 14 per cent from manufacturing and four per cent from retail.

Support for the Community Fridge Network has come from a range of business and funding sources in the last two years, including Sainsbury’s, The Rothschild Foundation, Bosch, North London Waste Authority, the Morrison’s Foundation, Samsung and the Climate Challenge Fund. The project won £16,000 of National Lottery funding in December 2017, and with the further funding announced today (6 March) it is hoped that the network will double in size to 100 Fridges by the end of 2020.

Commenting on the rapid growth of the Community Fridge Network, Trewin Restorick, Founder and CEO of Hubbub, commented: “We’re thrilled with how successful Community Fridges have been... The Fridges not only save valuable food, they help bring people together and have become real community hubs. Some people had doubts at the outset as to whether the Community Fridge Network would work, but the Fridges have developed to be positive, social spaces that have proven the doubters wrong.

“We’d encourage anyone interested in visiting or opening a Fridge to visit our website and we’d love even more businesses to get involved as demand is outstripping supply in some areas.”

The Community Fridge concept exists not only as a solution to reduce food waste but as a means of bringing communities together. A survey by Hubbub states that 50 per cent of Community Fridge groups found that people using the Fridges are sharing skills, while 45 per cent link their Fridge to cooking and growing workshops.

James Harcourt, England Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are proud to be supporting Hubbub, which gives communities the opportunity to learn new skills and create a healthier and greener lifestyle together by sharing food and reducing waste. Not only will this strengthen communities, [it will] also enable them to thrive.”

More information on the Community Fridge Network, including information on how to set one up in your area, can be found on Hubbub’s website.

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