Reducing waste and the ecological footprint

City initiatives

Use the links below to see practical examples of how places around the UK are taking action.

1. Run city-wide campaigns 

Brighton, Dorset, Leicester and Oxfordshire are running Love Food Hate Waste campaigns locally to encourage residents to reduce their food waste.

Bristol, Edinburgh and London have organised Feeding the 5000 events to divert tons of food waste and feed thousands of people.

Bury St Edmunds' Best Before Project works to prevent food waste by campaigning about the real meaning of Best Before labels and distributing unwanted food to people in need.

Cambridge Sustainable food challenges are designed to get community residents talking and thinking about reducing our carbon footprint. 

Edinburgh, Oxford and many more cities have held Disco Soup events to raise public awareness of the problem of food waste and how to reduce it.

London’s Stepney City Farm is rearing pigs on a healthy menu of food waste following the Pig Idea Campaign. 

2. Help producers to reduce their ecological impact

Brighton Permaculture Trust offers a permaculture design course which looks at how to design resilient, abundant human 'ecosystems'.

Leicester Transition group offers various permaculture courses, from a simple introduction to design courses.

Manchester based Kindling Trust runs a Commercial Organic Horticulture Course for those wanting to develop a career and business in organic growing.

3. Incorporate the Food Waste Hierarchy

Bristol’s Mayoral Food Conversation on Surplus Food and Waste involves city food and waste experts exploring how to reduce, redistribute and recycle food waste.

London’s FoodSave follows the principles of the Food Waste Hierarchy, helping businesses reduce, redistribute and recycle waste and surplus food.

Northern Ireland launched a public consultation on the introduction of restrictions on the landfilling of food waste.

Peterborough is progressing an integrated approach to waste management including the collection and treatment of household food waste through anaerobic digestion.

The University of York has developed a Food Waste Strategy based on the waste hierarchy to divert as much food waste away from landfill as possible.

4. Establish a food waste collection scheme

More than 300 Manchester restaurants have signed up to a local food waste collection scheme in a bid to make Manchester's hospitality sector the greenest in the UK.

Brighton Paper Round collects food waste from local restaurants and caterers. They use anaerobic digestion to convert the waste into biogas and liquid biofertiliser.

Canterbury has introduced a bus service powered by biofuel made from used cooking oil and waste lard.

Croydon Council is working with Proper Oil to collect used cooking oil from local food businesses.

Lewisham Council introduced food waste collections in 2017 to boost recycling rates and without increasing the overall cost of their waste and recycling collections. 

Plymouth City Council divert food waste from primary schools that used to go to landfill and turn it into green energy at a local farm-based anaerobic digestion plant.

5. Provide training on waste and resource efficiency

Cambridge Sustainable Food (CSF) is helping restaurants, catering businesses and food outlets across the city to measure and reduce their food waste as part of its ‘Taste Not Waste’ programme

NI Business Info provides advice on retail business efficiency, improving retail resource efficiency, reducing water and energy use.

North East Lincolnshire Council produced a handbook to help businesses reduce waste including food waste and packaging.

North London Waste Authority's 'Waste Less, Save More. A guide for North London Businesses' provides top tips, how to measure success, useful contacts and case studies.

Refill Bristol aims to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea by discouraging the consumption of single-use plastic bottles. 

6. Promote home and community food composting

Brighton's Community composting scheme has over 30 sites and 1000 households taking part.

Bristol Waste Nothing Challenge supports households towards zero waste and provides participants with a wormery and ongoing support.

Liverpool’s Rotters Community Composting collects and composts food waste from businesses and schools and delivers composting training and outreach programmes.

Norfolk County Council helps communities establish composting schemes and get financially rewarded for success through an innovative ‘recycling credits’ scheme.

North Ayrshire Council encourages home composting by providing advice on what, why and how to compost.

North Yorkshire provides advice and tips on composting, alternative composting systems and on how to use compost.

Perth and Kinross Council have a guide for home composting.

Wolverhampton City Council has teamed up with to provide reduced priced environmental products including home compost bins and water butts.

7. Collect harvest surplus and unwanted produce

Abundance Oxford and Abundance Portsmouth harvest excess fruit & veg from back gardens and public fruit trees across the city, redistribute it to community groups and teach people how to preserve it.

Bath’s Thoughtful Bread Company encourages its customers to bring them their surplus fruit and veg from the garden which they reward in bread.

Brighton’s Scrumping project picks fruit from private gardens, public spaces and derelict orchards and uses them to make juices, chutneys and preserves.

London’s Urban Harvest collects unwanted fruits from streets and gardens and organises foraging walks.

Transition Cambridge’s Fruit Harvest project maps freely available, wild-growing fruit and identified trees in gardens, streets and common land that can be harvested.

8. Collect and redistribute consumable surplus food

Brighton’s Food Waste Collective coordinates a network of volunteers to get surplus food from local businesses to local food charities and puts on public feasts and other awareness-raising social events.

Cumbria Councty Council has produced a document to inform and encourage local communities to organise the collection and redistribution of surplus food locally.

Leeds’ 'Pay-As-You-Feel' is the first café in the UK to use only donated waste food produce and allowing customers the option to donate what they feel for the service.

Liverpool’s FareShare Merseyside redistributes surplus food to over 100 charities and community organisations working with vulnerable people in the region.

London’s Plan Zheroes’ mission is to find, support and inspire food businesses who are willing to donate their surplus food to local charities and people who need it.

Manchester New Smithfield Market food waste diversion project managed by FareShare diverts in-date surplus food to those who need it most.


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation 

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