The ‘food-to-go’ sector is big business. According to a report from MCA and HIM, the value of the UK FTG market is set to be worth £21.2bn this year, up by 3% on 2018.
But lunch on-the-go generates around 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually, according to research from Hubbub. That’s 276 items per person, much of which isn’t recycled or recyclable and ends up in landfill.
“Lunch-on-the-go items create huge levels of waste and unfortunately much of this isn’t recyclable as it’s made from mixed materials or isn’t recycled due to contamination from food residue,” Trewin Restorick, CEO of Hubbub, explained.
UK workers are eating pre-prepared lunch options more frequently, Hubbub found in a survey of UK full- and part-time employees. In total, 64% said that they buy lunch-on-the-go now more than they did five years ago.
Hububb’s survey found 26% of people said they ate lunch on-the-go because of busier lifestyles. Others attributed it to the changing food culture in the UK: 20% of workers said there are more places to eat now and 19% said it is more tempting these days.
The charity has launched a local #FoodSavvy Lunch Club campaign to encourage a rethink of lunch-on-the-go. Hubbub wants to help create a new culture of meal planning and reusable lunch packaging that reduces food and plastic waste.
A trial of the campaign suggests that people can reduce packaging and food waste – and save money too. The pilot, which launched in March, found of the employees taking part, 83% said the Lunch Club helped them reduce their single use plastics.
Participants on average reduced their single use plastic usage by 54%; food waste was reduced by approximately 52% per participant; and 67% of those taking part said the trial had helped them to save money.
Local eateries also participated in a pilot ‘Bring Your Own Tupperware’ scheme.
“By planning lunches in advance and using up items in your fridge you can massively reduce the amount of packaging you use while saving money by cutting down on food waste – in the UK we could save £58 million a day just by making our own lunches,” Restorick said.
“If you do buy lunch on the go, don’t be shy – take along your own container to your favourite lunch spot.”