10,000 homes in Bury St Edmunds will be asked to trial Fresh Pod innovation to reduce food waste
- Credit: Mecha Morton
Thousands of East Anglian households will be asked to test a Norfolk-made food preservation device as part of a £30,000 waste reduction trial.
Fresh Pod, based in Norwich with a manufacturing unit in Thetford, is working with St Edmundsbury Borough Council on a six-month project funded by supermarket Sainsbury's as part of its Waste Less Save More initiative.
The consumer version of the Fresh Pod has been sent to 10,000 homes in Bury St Edmunds, with the council monitoring any reduction in the amount of food waste going into the bins of participating households.
The product uses pellets containing volcanic minerals which safely neutralise ethylene gas – the naturally-occurring ripening agent which causes fruits and vegetables to ripen and decay.
Valerie Watson-Brown, director of Fresh Pod, said the product can extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables by as much of four times if kept in a domestic fridge – and she hopes the trial will demonstrate its effectiveness at reducing food waste in the home.
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'It is really encouraging that Sainsbury's have got behind the issue of consumer food waste,' she said. 'It is shocking just how much fresh produce is thrown away.
'Getting Fresh Pod into the household fridge is a major hurdle for us, and makes so much sense. The technology is already being used extensively across the UK and Europe in the commercial world and by getting to the end user we can now protect fresh produce from the point of harvest right through to when it ends up on a plate.
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'We produced a consumer kit that will extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables at home by up to four times when you put it in your fridge. Up until now we have been banging on the doors of supermarkets saying you have got to educate the consumer on how they store things, and how to stop throwing things away.
'I think one of the by-products of this is that people will consider buying more fruit and veg, because they have confidence in their strawberries staying fresh for two weeks rather than two days. I am hoping that is what will come out of it, because it will satisfy some of the supermarkets who have been questioning whether they will use it.'
It is estimated that food waste fills up a third of the typical rubbish bin in St Edmundsbury, where a total of 7,500 tonnes of food waste is thrown away each year.
Peter Stevens, the council's cabinet member for operations, said: 'On average a family throws away £700 of fruit and vegetables a year, which the council then has to pay to collect and dispose of. Fresh Pod lengthens the lifetime of food, giving householders more time to store it until needed.'
With waste reduction becoming an increasingly high-profile issue for retailers, Sainsbury's has allocated £1m to support communities in exploring ways of working with householders to reduce the colossal amount of UK food which ends up in landfill – estimated at 7.3m tonnes in 2015.
Paul Crewe, project lead for Sainsbury's said: 'We now have a far deeper understanding of how to help households waste less food and save money, as well as the scale of the challenge.'