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Borough Market wins food waste award

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Borough Market has picked up a global award for its efforts to reduce food waste

Over the past year, surplus food from the Market’s stalls has been donated to 13 different charities, creating tens of thousands of meals for people in real need. Of the little left over, most has been sent to an anaerobic digestion plant.

In recognition of these effort, Borough has been presented with a Silver Award by the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM)—a global non-profit organisation which works to promote the work of wholesale and retail markets.

Markets from around the world compete for the WUWM Market Awards, which each year take a different theme. This year’s theme was: ‘Effectiveness in reducing food loss and food waste on the market’.

The judges said of Borough Market: “This retail market has helped traders over a two-year period to reduce food waste by diverting over 16,000 kilos of produce to good causes—producing over 40,000 meals for those persons most vulnerable in society.”

The gold prize went to Melbourne Markets—a newly built market complex in Australia’s second largest city—while the bronze award was given to CEAGESP, the wholesale market of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Good causes
To help traders reduce their levels of food waste, Borough Market has, since 2014, been collaborating with the Greater London Authority’s FoodSave campaign—a food waste reduction project which works to divert surplus food to good causes.

Produce left over at the end of trading on Saturday may not be suitable for selling the following week, but that doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly edible in the short term. Through the FoodSave scheme, the Market is able to ensure that as much of this exceptional produce as possible is eaten and enjoyed by some of London’s more vulnerable citizens.

Coordinated by Plan Zheroes, a social network that links food businesses to charities, collections are made from Borough Market at the end of Saturday trading, and then distributed among a selection of worthy recipients.

At the start, donations were limited to fruit, vegetables and bread, but the Market has now invested in the storage equipment necessary for meat, fish and dairy to be included in these weekly collections.

Renewable power
Not all of the Market’s surplus food is suitable for redistribution via the FoodSave scheme. But the remaining food waste can still be put to good use thanks to Borough Market’s relationship with an anaerobic digestion plant—a facility that uses microorganisms to break down organic material and turn it into renewable power, nutrient-rich fertiliser and water.

More than 80 per cent of food waste created by the Market’s traders and tenants now goes for anaerobic digestion—around 8,640 litres per week.

Through engagement with tenants and the provision of clearly signposted bins, the Market is aiming to bring this number up to 100 per cent in the near future.