It may have the reputation of being a green and eco-conscious city, but food makes up more than a third of rubbish in Brighton and Hove.

The national average-exceeding statistic prompted a campaign in the city to stop edible food finding its way into the bin – and the national Love Food Hate Waste scheme was brought to the city.

The “staggering” problems with food waste have been blamed on unnecessarily strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free and consumer demand for cosmetically perfect food as well as problems with engineering and agricultural processes in a report by the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Away from levelling the blame on producers, supermarkets and consumer habits, Brighton and Hove Food Partnership is focusing its attention on people’s kitchens.

According to Brighton and Hove City Council, a family with children on average spends £680 every year on food that ends up in the bin.

As well as wasting money, food going to landfill is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Eliminating food waste would have the equivalent impact of taking one in five cars off UK roads.

Nearly half of what is thrown away is fresh fruit and vegetables.

Bread, dairy produce, rice and pasta also make the top five most wasted food list.

Hectic lifestyles

Brighton and Hove’s Love Food Hate Waste coordinator Vera Zakharov said: “In Brighton higher than average food waste rates are telling.

“Recognising that Brighton is a really diverse city is beginning to scratch the surface. People live very different lives, have different access to where they buy their food from.

“People say they care about food waste. There is certainly a lot of will, desire and passion to tackle the problem.

“Even people who are more eco-friendly and eco-minded have hectic lifestyles to contend with.

“I’m one of the first to admit that I do sometimes waste food. I might buy stuff and plan to cook dinner at home, then see friends, watch a movie and grab something while I’m out.

“There is a diversity of reasons why people struggle with food waste.”

Research shows that everyone throws away more than they think they do.

Some of the common reasons are buying too much in the first place, not storing things properly so they go off quickly, not eating things in time and cooking too much, especially things like pasta and rice.

Willing participants filled out a food waste diary as part of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

The diaries highlighted a number of common problems – food rotting away in the back of the fridge, children refusing to eat their dinners and overcooking.

Little things add up

Miss Zakharov said: “Food waste – people’s first response is often: ‘I don’t waste that much food’.

“Most of us think about food waste at home and don’t see it as a big chunk of what we’re consuming.

"But once the conversation about food and what happens in the kitchen opens up people to admit sometimes they might throw away a couple of slices of bread or find mouldy things in the back of the fridge.

“It is the little things which add up – those slices of bread and mouldy cheese is the food waste we’re talking about.

“People aren’t used to thinking about what’s inside their bin.

“We all love food and Love Food Hate Waste is trying to focus on the positives, make people make small changes which can make a big difference.”

FareShare Brighton and Hove is helping businesses to reduce food waste and put it to a responsible use – collecting quality surplus food and redistributing it to charities or organisations helping those in need.

Last year the depot based near Moulescoombe delivered more than 300 tonnes of food to services around the city that support the homeless, women escaping abuse, troubled teenagers, deprived children and struggling families, saving projects more than £1million.

There was a 10% rise in demand for the food FareShare saved from being wasted.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “Sending food to landfill makes no sense economically, socially or environmentally.

“Fareshare’s work means that rather than being treated as waste and adding to the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, surplus food is diverted to feed vulnera- ble people.

“This is much more sensible and puts FareShare at the forefront of the battle to promote sustainability.”

Tim Cutress, co-owner of Forfars Bakery, said: “I am very proud of the relationship we have with FareShare and I enjoy seeing their van come every day to collect our surplus bread and cakes.

“It’s a great feeling to know that our surplus food goes to people in need and is not wasted.”


Brighton & Hove Food Partnership also runs a successful community compost scheme which helps divert unavoidable food waste from local incinera- tion.

There are now 15 compost sites around the city that are open to the public, involving 500 households.

Vera said: “Composting is one of the best places to start.

“The council has a composter, wormery and food digester subsidy.

“I’m really passionate about doing more composting in Brighton and Hove. We don’t have nearly enough across the city.

“The first thing we have to do is reduce the amount of food we waste. There are things which are unavoidable, like banana skins

“There are two big drivers of food waste – buying or cooking too much in the first place and then not storing it properly if you have done that.

“We’re used to shopping once a week or a fortnight which necessitates planning ahead.

“I also feel like everyone has a story where they have thrown away squidgy coriander – but rolling it up in kitchen roll would simply stop that happening.

“When shopping people need to think twice about if they can eat everything in a buy one get one free offer. It’s about mindfulness.”

She added: “I would like to see some more positivity about tackling food waste. People get that buzz from being thrifty foodies.”


  • Be an active consumer. Every small change counts. Visit (the Love Food Hate Waste website) for ways to buy, store and cook just about anything.
  • Get composting. Order a £5 bin from Brighton and Hove City Council or join a community composting scheme. (The Brighton & Hove Food Partnership) can help you start.
  • Think food waste beyond the home. Ask to take leftovers home from restaurants. Think about food waste at events.
  • Get involved locally. Join for news on workshops, projects and events that are improving Brighton & Hove’s food system.
  • Make your voice heard. Add your name to the (Feeding the 5000) campaign, which is addressing UK and EU food waste policy.
  • For more information about FareShare visit

Food diaries

The Argus: Ollie Sykes

OLLIE SYKES Green councillor living with his wife. Uses a Green Johanna, a hot composter, for food waste.

SUNDAY – fruit and veg peel, teabags, coffee grounds, meat fat.

MONDAY – fruit peelings, tea bags, old sugared almonds.

TUESDAY – fruit peeling, tea bags, unwanted sandwich, apple core.

WEDNESDAY – fruit peel, uneaten carrot and chopped fruit, old soya bolognaise and broccoli cooked days before and uneaten.

THURSDAY – fruit peelings, two slices of bread (too much), cabbage leaves.

FRIDAY – fruit peelings, crisp bread (too much).

SATURDAY – fruit peelings, old coriander, coffee grounds.

OLLIE: "I’m acutely conscious of food waste so actually found we waste less than I thought we would. But that means me eating more than I need to.

"Was made very conscious of the amount of packaging that comes with the food we buy. Biggest cause of waste is over- purchasing and over-cooking. And lack of communication between members of household about what’s for dinner."

The Argus: Bridie Phillips

BRIDIE PHILLIPS Young couple in their 20s. Food waste is binned.

MONDAY – 1/6 of a portion of soup binned (full up), mouldy shitake mushrooms.

TUESDAY – crumpet with butter (decided this wasn’t a healthy breakfast), pork fat, portion mashed potato (cooked too much), three gone off carrots.

WEDNESDAY – Two bread crusts (didn’t fancy it).

THURSDAY – packet of gone off cream cheese.

FRIDAY – two spoonfuls of rice (cooked too much).

SATURDAY – no food waste.

SUNDAY – bread crusts (didn’t fancy), gone off hummus.

BRIDIE: "Completing the food diary helped me to consider what I eat at each meal, how much food I put on to plates and what I have in the fridge.

"I think I’ll keep it more in mind not to buy more than I need and to use what I have first.

"Also to be a bit more creative with leftovers to avoid waste."

SARAH RYMAN Couple and two children. Bin or compost their food waste, sometimes feed it to the dog.

MONDAY – quarter of a bowl of porridge and quarter of a bowl of cereal (kids left, fed to the dog), mash potato (too much, fed to the dog), veg peelings.

TUESDAY – toasts crusts (left by the kids, fed to the birds), banana skin, apple core, noodles and stir fry (kids left, fed to the dog).

WEDNESDAY – quarter of a bowl of porridge (kids left, fed to dog), cucumber sticks, banana skins, enchiladas (forgot to put in fridge), toast and eggs (kids leftover fed to dog).

THURSDAY – quarter of a bowl of cereal (kids left fed to dog), stale bread ends (fed to birds), left sandwich crusts (fed to dog).

FRIDAY – sweet potato skins and one uneaten portion binned.

SATURDAY – cucumber (binned, kids wasted), children’s pasta (overcooked, fed to dog), 200g of yoghurt (binned, out of date).

SUNDAY – half a bowl of cereal (fed to dog), toast crusts (fed to birds), out-of-date hummus.

SARAH: "We are quite good with food waste as have a dog. Everything we don't eat the dog does or goes to compost.

The Argus: Ben Szobody

THE SZOBODY FAMILY Couple and five children. Compost their food waste.

MONDAY – bit of rotten apple, egg shells, orange peel, tea bags.

TUESDAY – spent coffee, egg shells, leek roots, grape stems and seeds.

WEDNESDAY – coffee grounds, leek roots, chicken bones, parsnip tops (would usually use for stock but a bit mouldy).

THURSDAY – banana peel, garlic peels, tea bags.

FRIDAY – coffee grounds, tea bags.

SATURDAY – egg shells, tea bags, tomato vine, pepper tops, aubergine stems.

SUNDAY – coffee grounds, tea bags and garlic peels.

BEN SZOBODY, FATHER: "We think about food waste quite a lot. Being a large family and being on a budget so we think about where everything goes.

"My wife makes stock from food scraps. We also grow food which makes you realise its precious and you want to maximise its use."