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Swiss lessons: How the UK can revolutionise its approach to food waste

In Geneva, a non-profit initiative is making waves in the fight against food waste. Public fridges, stocked with surplus food from local eateries, are popping up on the city's streets.

Residents are free to take what they need, and the result is twofold: less food ends up in landfills, and more people get fed. The project, spearheaded by community organisation Free-Go, costs around £30,000 annually and is funded by both private entities and the city government.


The Impact of Community Fridges


The food in these public fridges doesn't stay there long—usually less than an hour—before it's taken, prepared, and consumed. During the pilot phase, a mere 3% of the food was discarded, a figure that continues to drop as awareness grows. More locations are in the pipeline, and an increasing number of businesses are joining the initiative, which has been hailed as a triumph by the city government.


The UK's Current Efforts and Future Prospects


While the UK has its own set of voluntary initiatives, such as the Community Fridge Network and food waste apps like Too Good To Go, there's room for improvement. Voluntary measures are a step in the right direction, but they only address one aspect of the problem. For inedible food waste, recycling through anaerobic digestion offers a sustainable solution, turning waste into renewable energy and biofertiliser.


The Need for Government Intervention


Despite the success of voluntary initiatives, tackling the UK's food waste issue requires more than goodwill. Government action, such as reinstating the food waste reporting mandate and providing kerbside food waste collections, could accelerate progress.


Ultimately, Switzerland's Free-Go project serves as an inspiring example for the UK. It's a catalyst for conversation and action, encouraging both businesses and consumers to think creatively about minimising waste. However, for a comprehensive solution, a multi-faceted approach that includes government intervention is essential.

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