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Waste not: education is the key to a low waste future

Having spent three years of my early journalistic career writing about waste and recycling, it’s fair to say I’m more excited about the topic than your average person.

I was particularly excited, then, to learn that the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is to run a series of workshops with charity Keep Britain Tidy on how the local community can reduce their crust waste.

Oddly specific, right?

Well it turns out that 254 million crusts are likely to binned in the capital every year as many people overlook the end of the loaf, or simply refuse to eat it.

What happened to ‘eat your crusts, it’ll put hairs on your chest’? Kingsmill clearly cornered the market of fussy eaters with its No Crusts loaf. But even Kingsmill owner Allied Bakeries makes good use of the leftovers by sending them to be made into animal feed.

The NLWA workshops, meanwhile, will provide attendees with inspiration as to what to do with their unloved crusts. The on-hand chefs will provide tips to help reduce the crusty waste mountain, including freezing them to make breadcrumbs for topping pasta bakes or breading chicken, tossing them in butter, sugar and cinnamon for a snack or using them in tiramisu.

This might seem obvious to thrifty bakers with an eye on their bottom line and a flair for invention, but to Joe Public it’s valuable education.

There are dozens of other examples of using surplus bakery items to create new products – and all come with a story that can be shared with customers. Take Gail’s Waste Bread, for example. It’s made by taking surplus bread and turning it into porridge, which is then added to the dough. The NPD even gained national media coverage last September when it was unveiled.

Brewing is also becoming an increasingly popular use for leftover bread as bakeries and supermarkets partner with brewers. Toast is one of the best-known players in this arena, but the last year has seen Tiny Rebel use surplus bread from Iceland for a brew, while M&S has teamed up with Adnams to create a range of beers made from discarded crusts.

All these creations proudly display their surplus status on the label, meaning customers can enjoy a cold beer safe in the knowledge they played a small part in making the world a better place.

Surely that’s a feeling we can all get behind.


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