June 5, 2024

World Environment Day

Aoibheann O’Brien and Iseult Ward

Happy World Environment Day!  The issues highlighted by the United Nations this year are land restoration, desertification and drought resilience. This is so relevant in an Irish context, after a winter and spring of almost continuous rain that will significantly damage supply this summer. 

Last week we heard from the EPA that Ireland is not on track to meet its legally required 51 per cent emissions reduction target. We are, in fact, far off track. In its May 2024 report, the EPA says that, our first two carbon budgets (2021-2030) are “projected to be exceeded by a significant margin of between 17 and 27 per cent.” 

Food rescue is a recognised circular economy solution, integral to avoiding unnecessary emissions, and a key part of the creation of a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food system. We’ve been working on food rescue for 12 years now. Since 2013, FoodCloud has rescued 119,378 tonnes of good surplus food, and redistributed the equivalent of 284.2 million meals to over 7,000 community partners, avoiding 372,631 of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from going to waste. 

It’s not enough. The EPA states,  ‘faster implementation of measures is necessary to meet both National and EU targets. The pace at which planned policies and measures are implemented needs to be accelerated’.  World Environment Day is about generation restoration. Now is the time, and we are the generation that has to fix the flaws in our food system that has led to it globally being the second largest contributor to emissions, and the single biggest contributor to drought, freshwater pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss and the collapse of aquatic wildlife.  We must collectively and collaboratively continue to work with all food systems stakeholders on solutions. FoodCloud is always seeking to innovate, to find ways to accelerate our food waste reduction efforts. That’s why we are delighted to launch the AIB FoodCloud Community Meals Programme. 

This new service, which offers ready to eat meals to our community partners, will increase the amount of food we can rescue and reduce food waste within our own operations. It will be especially valuable to charities that are limited in terms of cooking facilities, resources and culinary skills. The meals will be prepared at the FoodCloud Kitchen in Clondalkin, Dublin, with support from AIB’s volunteers and it is a great opportunity for these individuals to be inspired to take practical action to reduce food waste in their own homes, and will enable them to share FoodCloud’s vision - a world where no good food goes to waste - with their families, friends and colleagues.

The projected impact of the programme from 2024 - 2026 is the provision of more than 200,000 meals, which will prevent an additional 100 tonnes of surplus food from going to waste.

To celebrate the launch, we hosted a lunch at Richmond Barracks in Dublin. Volunteer cooks from AIB, led by our head chef, Janice Downes, prepared a delicious  feast for everyone, including guests from our community partners  Whitefriar, St John Bosco Youth Centre, WALK, and Northside Partnership. Before lunch we were treated to a tour of the gardens with Richmond Barracks head gardener Polly Devlin to learn about how she is nurturing fruit trees, encouraging pollinators (and even working with volunteers on pollination by hand!) and asking the community to come in and grow food in the vegetable patch. Food waste and coffee grounds from FoodCloud’s pop up cafe are added to her compost box!  

Our sincerest thanks to AIB for their ongoing support. Over the past six years, 2,086 AIB colleagues dedicated over 11,103 volunteer hours, helping us redistribute 12,000 tonnes of surplus food, which equated to 28.6 million meals. Their commitment was instrumental in advancing our mission. As we continue to address the challenges of food waste and food insecurity, our focus remains on innovative solutions, including both practical and technology-driven fixes, to scale our impact. We look forward to the next three years of impactful collaboration.

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