The Real Junk Food Project has opened the UK’s first food waste supermarket in Pudsey, near Leeds.
Set up in 2013, the company began with a pioneering “pay as you feel” café initiative intercepting edible food which would otherwise become part of the 15 million tonnes of food thrown away in the UK each year.
It is part of a global network seeking to reduce the wastage of resources since as much as half of the food grown around the world – equivalent to 2 billion tonnes – is wasted annually. According to figures from Eurostat, the UK is the most wasteful of the EU member states.
The Real Junk Food Project supermarket takes food from cafes, caterers and allotments. Surprisingly, one of its biggest sources is food banks, whose internal polices often result in in-date food being thrown away. While some of the food may be beyond its expiration date, the Real Junk Food Project Network encourages the use of common sense judgement and adheres to all Environmental Health Regulations to ensure that its food is perfectly safe to eat.
People are encouraged to pay what they think the food is worth or to donate their time as part of the project’s mission to get people to value the resources – the raw materials and human energy – used to produce food.
Although the project’s ambitions are global, it has a close connection to Leeds. In a TedX talk embedded on the project’s website, Leeds-born founder and co-director Adam Smith gave the shocking figure that 22,000 people in the city having being diagnosed as malnourished in 2012. The problem is ongoing: according to government figures, at any one time over 16,500 people in the city are suffering from malnourishment.
Although the overall model of the company is to put itself out of business by encouraging people to be more conscious of food waste and take action against it, supermarkets in Sheffield and Bradford are set to follow, with plans for expansion into every city in the UK in the future.
(Image: The Independent)