A pioneering new scheme to cut down on the £12.5bn worth of food we throw away needlessly each year is launching in Yorkshire today.
Following successful roll-outs across a variety of UK cities in recent months, food sharing app OLIO launches in York as its first city in Yorkshire.
“Having grown up in Yorkshire, it feels great to be bringing OLIO home. We’re committed to reducing food waste for families and local businesses, and hope that everybody will download the app and join our fight to stop this insanity.”
The free app for smartphone users connects neighbours with each other and with local independent shops so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.
This could include food nearing its use-by date from shops, cafes and markets; spare vegetables from the allotment; cakes from an amateur baker; or groceries from household fridges when people go away or move home.
The inspiration for the app came from the early experiences of co-founders Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One, entrepreneurs raised in rural families witnessing the scandal of food waste close up.
Ms Cook grew up on a dairy farm in North Yorkshire, effectively seeing a third of her family’s hard work go to waste, while Celestial-One is the daughter of Iowa hippies and equally passionate about the issue.
To access the app, users simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO.
Neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy, and arrange pick-up from home, the store, an OLIO Drop Box, or another agreed location. The new food sharing service complements current initiatives in the city to reduce food waste including Your Cafe, which uses surplus food to create a community meal.
The social, economic and environmental case for action against food waste is compelling. Globally, a third of all food produced is thrown away and UK households at a cost of £700 to the average family.
The company commissioned polling through YouGov which found that 86 per cent of adults described themselves as “bothered” by the amount of edible food they threw away and that the majority of people saw the responsibility for addressing this problem as lying with individual households.
Labour MP for York Central and newly appointed Shadow DEFRA Secretary, Rachael Maskell, says: “Food is too precious a resource to end up in the bin, that’s why I’m delighted to welcome the launch of OLIO as an easy way for people to connect and share their surplus food.
“Not only is it good news for local families who want to cut their bills but OLIO also boosts local shops and markets who can now cut the amount of food they throw away at the push of a button.”
Ms Cook said: “Having grown up in Yorkshire, it feels great to be bringing OLIO home. We’re committed to reducing food waste for families and local businesses, and hope that everybody will download the app and join our fight to stop this insanity.”
The issue of food waste is also costly for local stores and governments, and ranks as one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases.