Lunch on the go generates 11 billion items of packaging waste

14/05/2019 - 08:47
British workers’ ‘lunch on the go’ habit is generating 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually, 276 items per person, according to research from environmental charity Hubbub.

The research of over 1,200 UK full and part-time workers revealed they use an average of four packaging items for each lunch purchase, with 76% picking up a main item e.g. sandwich container, 70% a packet of snacks and 65% a napkin.

Trewin Restorick, CEO of Hubbub said: “’Lunch-on-the-go' items create huge levels of waste and unfortunately much of this isn’t recyclable as it’s made from mixed materials or isn’t recycled due to contamination from food residue.

“By planning lunches in advance and using up items in your fridge you can massively reduce the amount of packaging you use while saving money by cutting down on food waste – in the UK we could save £58 million a day just by making our own lunches.

“If you do buy lunch on the go, don’t be shy – take along your own container to your favourite lunch spot. We’d encourage anyone wanting to get involved in the campaign to visit the Food Savvy website and we’d love more businesses to take on the challenge too – just register your interest on the Hubbub website.”

Hubbub, in collaboration with Norfolk and Suffolk Councils, has launched a new campaign, #FoodSavvy Lunch Club. It is encouraging people across the UK to get involved and rethink their own lunch habits.

The #FoodSavvy Lunch Club was trialled in March 2019 in East Anglia with businesses Aviva, AXA, Environment Agency and BT, challenging a total of 50 employees to go for a month without using single use packaging at lunch time.

Supported by Hubbub, participants were given a #FoodSavvy Savings Guide, which provided them with the ‘golden rules’ for reducing packaging and food waste.  

The businesses followed a three-week meal plan packed with simple, healthy, sustainable meals and were challenged to make their own meals for the trial’s final week.

Of the employees taking part, 83% said the Lunch Club helped them reduce their single use plastics, with participants on average reducing their usage by 54%. Food waste was reduced by approximately 52% per participant and 67% said the trial had helped them to save money.

Challenge participants and local eateries also took part in a pilot BYO Tupperware scheme, Take Away, Give Back where they received a small incentive for bringing their own packaging.  

Hubbub is also now inviting businesses and employees to take part by registering their interest via campaigns@hubbub.org.uk .

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