Fight against food waste

Around 40 per cent of the rubbish in an average West Sussex waste bin is made up from food waste. Most of this is avoidable and 70 per cent could have been eaten at some point.

Saving food from going to waste is not only good for the environment but can also save you money; waste food is the equivalent of £20 per month per person, or an average of £80 per month for a family of four.

This page contains our top tips on reducing food waste.

Changing your shopping habits

Planning a menu for the week and making a list is essential and will also save you some money. Shops frequently promote BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) deals and 'loss leaders'. This is where a number of products will be considerably marked down in price, generally close to the store entrance, to attract your immediate attention. Before you are tempted ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Are these items actually on your list?
2. Will you definitely use them?
3. Do you need to change your plans or list to accommodate them?

When writing your shopping list make sure you check what you have at home and how much extra of an ingredient you will need. You should also buy loose where possible. This is often cheaper, fresher and encourages you to only buy what you need. You also save on single use plastic too!

Try to only go to the shops once a week as this helps to avoid buying extra food you don’t need and reduces the temptation from other offers. Don't go shopping when hungry and in a rush as it's difficult to shop wisely in those conditions.

Get creative with leftovers

If you have leftovers from dinner, instead of throwing it away why not save it and keep it for your lunch the next day. Not enough for a full meal? You could save it anyway and combine it with something else – leftovers can make a welcome change to everyday sandwiches. They can usually be frozen to make a quick and easy meal as well.

Try to clean out your fridge monthly to make use of any leftovers you have lying around. If you’re struggling for inspiration or recipes that make the most of your leftovers, why not visit the Love Food Hate Waste website or BBC Good Food for fun, tasty recipes that will use up your leftovers.

If you are noticing that you always have leftover bread, why not freeze your loaf to keep if fresh? You can defrost it slice by slice to ensure you never need to throw away any bread again. Most toasters even have a defrost setting so you can defrost your bread and toast it at the same time.

Keeping food fresher for longer

One of our favourite tips for keeping food fresher for longer is to make sure you are storing it correctly. When you buy food at the supermarket check the packaging to see how it should be stored for maximum freshness. More information can also be found on the Love Food Hate Waste website.

Did you know for your fridge to work effectively it should be at 5 degrees Celsius or below? From time to time, you should check your fridge's built in thermometer against a freestanding one to ensure accuracy.

As with your fridge, your freezer needs to be at the right temperature to work effectively. Your freezer should be set at -18 degrees Celsius or below.

Here are our top 10 tips for freezing food:

  1. Make sure food is cooled before freezing to avoid increasing the temperature of the freezer and causing other foods to defrost.
  2. Freeze food in manageable portions so that they can be used according to need - label them so they can be easily identified, and include the date of freezing.
  3. Defrost food in the fridge and use within two days or according to the instructions - you may be able to use a microwave on the 'defrost' setting immediately before cooking and follow the microwave manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Do not refreeze food unless it's been cooked in between, for example mince for Bolognese - cooking will kill off any bacteria.
  5. Wrap your food properly to avoid freezer burn which happens when food loses moisture in the freezer - use sealed containers so that this occurs more slowly, limits the amount of single-use plastic used and often makes it easier to store more effectively.
  6. Freeze food at its prime not when it's old to avoid wastage.
  7. A full freezer is more economical to run, it may be worth using everyday items such as frozen peas or other vegetables to fill the space.
  8. Defrost your freezer regularly so it works effectively - whilst defrosting, place the frozen food in the fridge where most things will remain frozen for up to two hours. You may need to consider other options for ice cream or similar items.
  9. If you have a power cut try not to open the freezer door - food should stay frozen for up to 24 hours.
  10. Keep your freezer organised - this will allow you to see exactly what you have in there and allow you to plan meals around it and saving you some money on your shopping too!

More about food waste


If you're interested in home composting head over to our waste prevention page for information on how to compost as well as how to get your hands on a subsidised compost bin.

Separate food waste collections

In 2020 West Sussex County Council (WSCC) undertook a trial collection service with Arun District Council which included weekly food waste and Absorbent Hygiene Product collections, such as nappies and incontinence waste, which was extremely successful. Mid Sussex District Council in partnership with WSCC rolled out a 123-collection trial with the inclusion of food waste in Autumn 2022.

As part of the Governments new 'Simpler Recycling' regulations they have mandated that weekly collections of food waste will be introduced for most households across England by 2026.

Rollout of separate food waste collections in West Sussex and the timings of any new arrangements is a decision that is made by the district and borough councils, as they are the waste collection authorities in West Sussex. Currently only a minority of West Sussex waste is landfilled but we strongly support the requirement to collect and process food waste separately as this is the most sustainable outcome. At present, all black bag waste, which includes food waste, that arises from households in West Sussex is delivered to the Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility, you can find more information on how this waste is treated on our about the MBT page.