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Clonakilty set to lead food waste plan

February 20th, 2024 4:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

770,300 tonnes of food is wasted annually in Ireland. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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CLONAKILTY has been chosen to kick-start a new national initiative to ‘revolutionise’ food waste management and serve as a blueprint to roll out across Ireland.

All sectors of the community, from residents to retailers, and schools to farmers, are being asked to play their part in the project which aims to fight back against 770,300 tonnes of food wasted annually in Ireland.

A national non-government agency Voice of Irish Concern for the Environment (Voice) is linking up with local groups including Clonakilty Tidy Towns and Clonakilty Community Resource Centre for the pioneering project. Dubbed ‘Waste Not, Want Not’, this initiative will run until April 2025.

Funding of €212,750 was allocated for Voice under strand two of the Community Climate Action Programme, to develop ‘circular approaches to community level food and waste management’ through consultative and action-based approaches. Clonakilty is now the base for the project.

‘The community is more than the sum of its parts, and this initiative is about bringing every element together for a common cause,’ said Abi O’Callaghan-Platt, policy director at Voice Ireland.

‘This can be a win-win for everyone,’ she said, with cost savings for businesses and producers. ‘Clon has a bit of everything. It has a very well-rounded community. It’s an important food producer, and surrounded by farmland.

‘We are following a roadmap from other towns,’ said Abi, citing other initiatives undertaken in West Cork, including the Skibbereen Taking on Food Waste project.

Some of the initiatives are simply about joined-up thinking – for example, the idea of pre-order meals at events which could be incorporated into weddings or any group catering, with people choosing their meal option on the invite, thereby decreasing the amount of food the caterer must buy and produce.

The whole community will be involved, with supermarkets also being contacted about avoidable and unavoidable food waste, and where the ‘unavoidable’ waste can be distributed.

‘On a household level, we throw away about €700 of food. We put things in the trolley and it ends up in the bin,’ said Abi.

‘It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about bringing resources together, and then across the community, and putting together a roadmap,’ she said. ‘A lot of work has been done on food waste. The next step is to hold community conversations.’

The first of these conversations welcomes householders and community groups to O’Donovan’s Hotel on Thursday February 22nd at 7pm. A meeting for food businesses – processors, retailers, hotels, cafes and restaurants – takes place on Thursday February 29th at 7pm at O’Donovan’s, while a meeting for the community takes place on Thursday March 7th at 8pm at the same venue.

Clonakilty has long been a trailblazer for community initiatives, being Ireland’s first fairtrade town 21 years ago. In 2018, it became Ireland’s first ‘Autism Friendly’ town.

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