Environment

Leftover bread is being turned into new loaves in a bid to end food waste

It may cost £4.20 a loaf but this UK first is a sign of the crackdown on the problem alongside Michael Gove’s £15m pilot scheme

Gail's waste bread

This week Michael Gove unveiled a £15 million plan to crack down on food waste by diverting surplus food out of the supply chain to charities.

Whether you think the plan is half-baked or the solution to slash the 10.2 million tonnes of food wasted every year – 1.8 million tonnes of which is a result of food manufacture – other fresh plans are also hitting the street this month.

One of those is Gail’s bakery’s waste bread – the UK’s first loaf made from leftover bread.

The Waste Bread is a sourdough that turns surplus bread into a porridge to be added into dough to create a fresh loaf. The innovative process means that each loaf has a different taste depending on the previous day’s leftovers.

It is not cheap at £4.20 a loaf, but the thick-crust bread is set to be rolled out across 43 of Gail’s bakeries in London and the south east on October 11.

The nature of the process means that supply will depend on the amount of leftovers on offer – but that will also fit in with the firms’ pledge to bake in small batches to keep waste to a minimum.

Tom Molnar, Gail’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Our promise is to be authentic and thoughtful with all that we do. We’re lucky to have passionate bakers creating exceptional food every day, and the Waste Bread is a great example of our expertise and passion further aligning with the values of our communities.”

Every night, Gail’s also donates leftover food to over 40 local charities and that is a measure that Gove is keen to repeat, according to this week’s announcement.

The Environment Secretary’s pilot scheme will see £15m devoted to ensuring that food is diverted to charities rather than going to waste through generating energy, anaerobic digestion or animal feed.

“Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. It harms our environment, it’s bad for business – and it’s morally indefensible,” said Gove.

“Every year, around 100,000 tonnes of readily available and perfectly edible food is never eaten. This has got to change.”

The move has been praised by food waste charity Fare Share’s CEO Lindsay Boswell, who insists that it can redress the imbalance of paying more to donate food than dumping it, amounting to 250 million meals worth of food every year.

“Right now it actually costs farmers, manufacturers and packers a lot less to dump or recycle fresh, in date food than to redistribute it to good causes – in part because of the cost of keeping the surplus food fit for human consumption,” he said.

“With the barriers to charitable food redistribution removed, businesses will no longer be penalised for doing the right thing with their food: using it to feed people.”

This week, The Big Issue has cooked up a Food Special, featuring body coach Joe Wicks, Great British Bake Off star Prue Leith and how food has been used to bring the community together in the wake of the Grenfell disaster. It’s available now from vendors and The Big Issue Shop.

Image: Gail’s

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