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Pupils on a Mission to Tackle Food Waste

David McCann   Fri 15 Dec 2017

Schools across the country have been tasked with taking on the Food Waste Challenge, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DAERA was delighted to recently report that Northern Ireland has achieved a 50% recycling rate across the country for all types of waste for the first time. New food waste legislation introduced last April has helped households reach this target, and so it is pertinent that this project is focusing on food waste in particular. Around 10 million tonnes of food, with a value of £17 billion, is wasted in the UK each year - 60% of which could be avoided.

Food is an expensive part of our weekly budget with families in Northern Ireland spending, on average, £64 every week on food. The food we waste can be worth up to one third of the value of our shopping spend. Across Northern Ireland we waste the equivalent of up to six meals per week. As such, food waste going to landfill is placing a strain on our purses and the environment, 20% of the UK’s CO2 eq. emissions comes from food and waste.

The Eco-Schools programme, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is a pupil-led, environmental education programme, which encourages a hands-on approach to creating a more sustainable school and home environment. With an estimated half of all waste in schools being food waste it is a really important issue to tackle.

Pupils will be asked to highlight the great resource that could be produced from recycling food waste, namely compost. Not only will pupils learn about the 3R’s of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling food waste, but they will also learn about the great benefits to the environment that making compost has too.

Owen Lyttle, Head of Waste Policy, DAERA said: “With more household waste being recycled now than being landfilled in Northern Ireland this Food Waste Challenge provides a timely reminder to families to keep up the good work. Christmas is just around the corner and now is a good time to re-emphasise the need to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible. The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs applauds the enthusiasm of all the schools and pupils involved in the Challenge through their Eco-Schools work.”

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to be supported by DAERA in this Food Waste Challenge. It is a great opportunity for pupils to examine the issue and take real practical actions to make a positive change in school and at home. We are looking forward to seeing all the fabulous ideas they will have.”

Participating schools will have the chance to win prizes for their photos of school and home based actions. £200 for the best photo – in each council area - and a further £300 for the best overall school actions.

By participating in projects such as the Food Waste Challenge schools will be able to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable as they work towards their prestigious, internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag award. To find out more please visit www.eco-schoolsni.org.