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London-wide behaviour change campaign to act as roadmap for European food waste action

London-wide behaviour change campaign roadmap Europe food waste action LIFE Commission
A new London-wide behaviour change programme is aiming to cut down on the 540,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste created in London households every year, which organisers say could potentially save residents of the capital £330 million along the way.

The Transforming City Food Habits for Life project, which the organisers have dubbed ‘TRiFOCAL’ for short, is an initiative led by Resource London and supported by social and environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London. It will deliver messages focusing on how Londoners can reduce the amount of food they waste, improve their recycling of any food waste that can’t be avoided and begin to implement a more healthy and sustainable diet.

Households in London throw away an estimated 900,000 tonnes of food every year, of which 540,000 tonnes could have been eaten. The food and drink wasted in London costs consumers £1.4 billion per year just to purchase, but residents also see a cost in the £50 million a year that London councils spend reprocessing and disposing of food waste.

Add to this the 2.1 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions that are generated by the waste, and you have a huge financial and environmental cost of avoidable food waste that could be significantly cut down with behaviour change.

Over three years, starting this month, TRiFOCAL will engage with each of the 33 London boroughs, using a range of communications approaches, including events, advertising and direct engagement to try to induce behaviour change in householders, hospitality businesses, local communities and schools.

The initiative aims to use innovative approaches to:

  • prevent food waste by changing planning, shopping, storage and meal preparation behaviour;
  • promote healthy and sustainable eating by changing purchasing and preparation practices; and
  • recycle more unavoidable food waste

London-wide behaviour change campaign to act as roadmap for European food waste action
540,000 tonnes of avoidable food waste is generated in London every year
EU-funded project to act as template for other European cities

The programme was devised after Resource London received funding of €3.2 million from the European Union’s LIFE project to deliver a food waste initiative to act as a test bed for other European cities.

It will run for three years from this month, and by the end of the programme a ‘food waste behavioural change resource bank’ will be developed to help other European cities replicate any successes achieved in London.

Resource London is a partnership programme formed by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

During the programme, it will focus on reaching householders and businesses, whilst Groundwork London will target community groups, as well as schools, where WRAP research suggests 80 per cent of food waste is avoidable.  

Bigger picture of food

Antony Buchan, Head of Programme at Resource London, said:  “TRiFOCAL London represents a fantastic opportunity for Resource London to look at the bigger picture around food: what we consume in London, and how we deal with the unavoidable food waste that’s generated.

“We want to help Londoners consume food more sustainably, save money and get a bit healthier by doing it, and then use their food recycling services more effectively. It delivers an exciting new chapter in making the capital greener.”

To receive updates on the project or register an interest in getting involved, email the project directly. More information about Resource London can be found on its website or in a profile piece in the current issue of Resource magazine.

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