Sustainability charity Hubbub has launched an initiative to combat food waste by partnering with Sainsbury’s and Bosch to create the Community Fridge Network.
Surplus food from local businesses and households will be available from fridges in specific locations for residents to access.
The first five will be installed this month in Milton Keynes, London (Manor House, Leytonstone and Old Street) and Northern Ireland. Another 30 other locations have been identified with the goal of expanding to 50 locations in the first year.
The Community Fridge concept of fridges stocked by local businesses and householders with surplu food has been trialled in Spain and Germany. These projects formed the basis of a pilot in Swadlincote, Derbyshire last year funded by Sainsbury’s. The pilot used a fridge and freezer supplied by Bosch.
Existing sites, including the Swadlincote fridge and others in Frome in Somerset and Camberwell and Brixton in London are also joining the network.
The scheme is aiming to reduce the £13bn worth of food thrown away each year by UK households and £3bn of food lost by the hospitality and food service sector.
The Community Fridge Network will provide free advice and support to organisers on the legal requirements and food hygiene challenges for those setting up their own scheme.
Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s head of sustainability, engineering & energy said: “Following on from the huge success of the Swadlincote pilot - which saw over 9,000 items of food redistributed in just seven months – we are delighted to support The Community Fridge Network.
“This innovative trial has shown us that one small town can save over 500kg of food every month. As a business, we are committed to helping our customers reduce their food waste via our Waste less, Save more campaign, while at the same time we are always looking for ways for us to reduce our own food surplus.
“Up until now, we’ve been providing over 1,000 local charities up and down the UK with surplus food that doesn’t need refrigeration – so this now gives us the opportunity to provide chilled surplus food to those that need it most.”
Funding has come from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, North London Waste Authority, The Funding Network and Sainsbury’s and with fridges and freezers donated by Bosch.
More information on The Community Fridge Network, including a map of fridge locations and advice for those interested in setting up a community fridge: www.hubbub.org.uk/communityfridgenetwork