Consumers are being urged to sign up to a new app to stem the rising tide of dumped food in Ireland – estimated at more than 19,000 tonnes a week.
The food sharing app Olio connects neighbours to give away unwanted food and other items that may otherwise end up in landfill.
Ahead of its official rollout in Ireland, word of mouth has already generated more than 36,000 sign-ups, with users giving away 10,500 food portions.
Dublin is the most active county, followed by Cork, Kildare, Galway and Wicklow.
Olio co-founder and CEO Tessa Clarke was inspired to build the app in the UK five years ago after struggling to find anyone to take unwanted food from her fridge when she was moving house.
“People in Ireland have an innate sense of community and food is valued,” she said.
“They also like to give and care about each other and the planet.
“By enabling people to easily share more and waste less, we aim to help transform our throw-away society into a giveaway society.”
Dubliner Lindsay Ray, 38, has so far given away 121 items and collected 69, saving the equivalent of 56 meals and 18,000 litres of water.
“There are already close to 2,500 people living within a 5km radius of me in Rialto on the app, so there’s an active group of people sharing and giving away,” she said.
“I use Olio when doing a clear-out or if I come across something I no longer need. I’ve given away tea, coffee, tins of soup, lentils and pasta.
“Apart from the decluttering benefits, it feels really great to be able to give to others, while reducing waste. People in my area are into recycling and waste reduction in a big way, so items are usually requested within an hour or two.”
Users of the free app upload a photo and description, plus details about where and when to collect it.
Others can then request these by searching or browsing through the listings, where they will see what’s available nearby.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows an estimated one million tonnes of food are wasted in Ireland each year – costing
households 700 euro a year and collectively equal to 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Research by Zero Waste Scotland claims that sending just 1kg of food to a landfill produces the same carbon emissions as landfilling 25,000 500ml plastic bottles.
Olio’s own research uncovered that a third of people feel “physical pain” when they throw away good food.
In five years, Olio has acquired more than five million community members worldwide.
More than 34 million portions of food have been shared, with the pandemic increasing the number of listings coming onto the app five-fold.