Earlier this year, the Students’ Association, in partnership with the University’s Social Responsibility and Sustainability Department, launched a new food waste reduction project, looking to investigate the current food waste management processes at Students’ Association outlets and identify ways to divert edible food to local community and students.
The project was driven by this year’s VP Community, Ollie Glick, and VP Activities and Services, Kai O’Doherty, in response to Students’ Association staff feedback around repurposing edible food ending up in food waste recycling.
Kai O’Doherty, VP Activities and Services commented “After listening to our committed, diligent student staff, it became clear people hate throwing away food at the end of the day. We decided to partner with Food Sharing Edinburgh, whose volunteers pick up edible food waste and redistribute it to those who need it, with funding from the University’s Social Responsibility & Sustainability Department. We’re thrilled the trial went so well, and will be expanding to other outlets. We hope the University’s catering will soon follow suit!”
The project, led by Georgia Forsyth Sijpestijn, an Ecological and Environmental Sciences graduate, saw staff at the Students’ Association collaborating with Food Sharing Edinburgh – a local, volunteer-led food waste reduction movement – to collect and donate unwanted food from The New Amphion, Teviot, to students, local community, and the homeless.
Georgia added "It was a fantastic opportunity to work with the Students' Association on the Food Waste Sustainability project. The enthusiasm of the staff towards implementing a food waste redistribution pilot, and the measures they had already put in place to reduce waste, helped ensure a successful and sustainable project for the future. As student and staff awareness of the environmental impacts of food waste increase, the Association and SRS are keeping in pace with their expectations. The next step is to expand the project to further outlets, which the Students' Association is fully encouraging of, in partnership with Food Sharing."
Feedback from volunteers and staff alike has been very positive, with project statistics pointing to a successful model that has both social and economic benefits for the parties involved. Over the six weeks that the pilot project operated, almost 65kg of food was saved from disposal – equivalent to over 24 days’ worth of food for a single British person*!
Joe Thompson, a project volunteer, commented “The food waste project has been great to be involved with, it makes so much sense and lots of tasty food was saved from being thrown away, going to bellies not bins! I'm excited for the roll-out to other Students’ Association venues."
Following the successful project pilot, the Students’ Association will be looking to transfer the food waste distribution model across more outlets on campus, while conversations with the University’s Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE) Department are also underway.
A project volunteer collecting donated food from The New Amphion.
For more information on food waste and other sustainability projects, please contact Davy Gray, Sustainability Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
*According to National Geographic’s ‘What the World Eats’, in the UK, we consume on average 2.67 kg of food per day.