Foodcloud has been operating in Ireland and the UK since 2014 and works with major retail partners such as Tesco, Aldi, and Lidl to ensure food is diverted to hundreds of charities.
In some cases businesses deliver directly to Foodcloud hubs in Cork, Galway, and Dublin, but in most cases it is facilitated via text messages that show retailers and charities what is available on a given day.
Head of community at Foodcloud, Darragh Doyle, said in the UK and Ireland 4,558 tonnes of food was moved this year, versus 1,755 tonnes last year.
As for Ireland, 1,235 tonnes of food was moved this year to date, compared with 772 tonnes in 2016.
“There is obviously a steep rise in the amount of food that retailers are giving,” he said. He added that while the increase in food provision was due to improvements in the system and the addition of larger retailers to the network, it was obvious that from the perspective of charities involved, the demand was there.
“It is very streamlined and it is getting better,” he said, adding that a smaller quantity of food was also distributed via the Foodcloud hubs and food rescue runs, including some that took place yesterday across Dublin.
Earlier this year, Foodcloud said that since it began operating, it had diverted 8,300 tonnes of food or more than 18 million meals that might otherwise have ended up in landfill.
Meanwhile, Communications, Climate Action, and Environment Minister Denis Naughten has urged households to limit food waste over Christmas.
It is estimated that Irish homes and businesses throw out more than 1m tonnes of food a year, equating to €700 each, and with waste peaking at Christmas time.
Mr Naughten said: “By planning our shopping and cooking a little better, we can help cut food waste. The carbon footprint of wasted food is estimated at 3.3 gigatonnes globally.
“If food waste were a country, it would rank behind only the US and China for greenhouse gas emissions. My department supports the EPA’s ‘Stop Food Waste’ campaign and its website covers simple tips on how to do this.”
His department has recommended that people take simple steps to limit their food waste, such as planning shopping and meals, knowing the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates, and using up leftovers.
It also recommended limiting the amount of quickly perishable foods served and not overstocking on items such as bread and milk, as shops will reopen soon after Christmas Day.
It called on people to properly dispose of food waste using the Brown Bin, amid Government efforts to halve food waste by 2030 as a UN Sustainable Development Goal.
An action group to combat food waste in the retail sector was established this year, involving Aldi, Lidl, Musgrave, Spar, and Tesco, with retailers signing up to Ireland’s Food Waste Charter.
In January the Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘Stop Food Waste’ programme will run a week-long national awareness campaign highlighting the food waste issue and providing practical help for householders to make the most of the food they have bought. More information and tips are available at www.StopFoodWaste.ie.