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Enough food to fill 11,720 double decker buses or the Albert Hall 15 times over is chucked away every year in London. Today (Friday 18th November), the Mayor Boris Johnson urged businesses and the public to sign up to a pledge to reduce the mountains of food needlessly thrown away and sent to landfill, helping to make the capital a cleaner and greener city

Launching the pledge at the Feeding the 5,000 event in Trafalgar Square, the Mayor called on businesses to follow a simple ’Food Waste Pyramid’ guide to minimise how much edible food is wasted - firstly, by avoiding buying surplus food, and secondly by redistributing any unwanted food to charities such as FareShare and FoodCycle which then provide it to people in need. Thirdly, food unfit for human consumption should be fed to livestock where possible and finally it should be disposed of through composting and processes such as Anaerobic Digestion, which use the food to create electricity. Businesses such as Waitrose, the New Covent Garden Market, Cafe Spice, Wahaca, Innocent Drinks and Abel and Cole have already signed up to the pledge.

The Mayor handed out the first plate of free curry - made from misshapen vegetables which fail to meet the cosmetic standards of supermarkets - at Feeding the 5000, which aims to highlight the vast quantities of perfectly edible food that gets wasted. It is estimated that the average family wastes £50 each month by throwing out unused but perfectly edible food. Feeding the 5,000 was organised by food waste expert Tristram Stuart with support from the Mayor, and run in partnership with Fareshare, FoodCycle, Love Food Hate Waste and Friends of the Earth.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Throwing away mountains of perfectly edible food is crazy at a time when all Londoners are feeling the pinch. I want to do all I can to help people to cut waste, save cash by doing so and improve our great city. This is why I am determined to cut the amount of food needlessly sent to landfill.

"I urge businesses and Londoners to get on board to reduce waste and help to save millions for the capital's economy. It is my vision to make London a zero waste city, which is why I am working closely with London's boroughs with the aim of creating the capital's very first zero waste ward, to show the rest of the city how it can be done."

Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board, said: "Changing the way we deal with food waste in London can have a real impact on the capital's environment, cutting emissions and reducing the amount of edible produce sent to landfill. The Mayor has set out ambitious targets to cut waste, and if we are to achieve them we need businesses and residents in the capital to sign up to this pledge and work together to stamp out avoidable food waste."

Tristram Stuart, who organised the event said: 'The Feeding the 5000 public pledge is an opportunity for everyone to call on businesses, governments and citizens to help end the global food waste scandal. Around 80 percent of people want to see businesses cut food waste, and businesses are now responding by signing up to the pledge. This is a problem with simple solutions that we can all help to bring about.'

The Mayor wants to reduce rubbish, create green jobs and put “the village” back into the city of London, by making it cleaner and greener. To this end he has set out plans for managing London’s waste, detailing that it is possible for us to recycle 67 per cent of the waste we create in London, while using the newest, cleanest renewable technology for the remainder of the rubbish could help save cash by avoiding costly landfill taxes.
The Mayor's waste strategies, published today (Friday 18th November) , set out how London could save £77 million a year and generate 1,260 vital green collar jobs by upping its game on recycling and opting for the cleanest technologies to deal with the rest of our rubbish.

A 'greener' generation of innovative technologies is making it possible to fuel homes, businesses and vehicles from material that, in the past, we would have just thrown away. Significantly increasing these new ways to treat waste is an investment opportunity worth hundreds of millions to our economy, which will dramatically reduce the impact of rubbish disposal on the environment.

Steps have already been taken to see that the facilities we need get built, for example LWARB (London Waste and Recycling Board) has committed to fund London's first gasification plant in Dagenham, and the Mayor has jump started this market through the innovative LWARB and London Green Fund which have £120 million between them to deliver waste infrastructure. The Mayor's vision is to make London a zero waste city and to that end he is working with boroughs and communities to find an area in the capital to become a zero waste area which will showcase the best environmental practices for others to follow.

The key targets in the Mayor’s Municipal Waste and Business Waste Strategies include:


  • To have no household waste going directly to landfill by 2025.
  • To reduce the amount of household waste produced by one per cent per year to 2031 (This is  equivalent to a 20 per cent reduction per household over the lifetime of the  strategy).
  • To increase London’s capacity to reuse or repair waste from approximately 6,000 tonnes a year in 2008 to 20,000 tonnes a year in 2015 and 30,000 tonnes a year in  2031.
  • To recycle or compost at least 45 per cent of our rubbish by 2015, 50 per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2031.
  • Business waste strategy targets are to achieve 70 per cent reuse, recycling and composting of Commercial & Industrial waste by 2020, maintaining these levels to 2031 and to achieve 95 per cent reuse, recycling and composting of Construction Demolition and Excavation waste by 2020, maintaining these levels to 2031.
  • To cut London’s greenhouse  gas emissions through the management of London’s waste, achieving annual  greenhouse gas emissions savings of approximately:
  1. 545,000 tonnes of CO2eq in 2015
  2. 770,000 tonnes of CO2eq in 2020
  3. One million tonnes of CO2eq in 2031

To generate as much energy as practicable from London’s organic and non-recycled waste in a way that will not emit any more carbon emissions than the energy source it is replacing.  This is estimated to be possible for about 40 per cent of London’s municipal waste after recycling or composting targets are achieved by 2031.

Written by Scott Buckler
Friday, 18 November 2011 10:10

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