From waste to opportunity

Vincent Doumeizel

This blog summarises the discussions from the 'Waste to Opportunity' session at the 2024 conference. Three very different journeys and perspectives on making the most of waste and underutilised resources.

Jim Shanks, from Standhill Farm, near Hawick in the Borders established the Scottish tomato industry when they developed a four acres glass house which produces 1750 tonnes of tomatoes annually, and is heated and powered by the dairy farm's anaerobic digester. 

Jim referenced Bill Shankly’s  quote: “It’s the greatest thing in the world, natural enthusiasm. You are nothing without it,” as the driving force behind the family’s business development.

Vincent Doumeizel is a Senior Advisor for Ocean at United Nations Global Compact as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. Previously, he worked in Africa for the French government, supporting international aid. Realising the impact of poverty and global hunger, he decided to devote his life to mitigate them. Vincent is now leading the first global platform for Seaweed Stakeholders, the Global Seaweed Coalition.

He discussed how food systems are a big contributor to climate change, social injustice and pollution “We have a fast-growing population. Growing by double the population of Oxford, every day.

"In the meanwhile agricultural yields are stable and there no more land.. but if you step back our planet is blue, i.e. 70% of earths area is the sea. This is where seaweed comes in, it doesn’t need watering, nor a cold-chain for transport. This two-billion year-old organism is also very diversified.

“We have destroyed 50% of the biodiversity in the ocean in the last 50 years. If you want to repair the planet, start with the algae and seaweed in the oceans.” Vincent commented.

"Start eating seaweed, create a market for seaweed. Each time we eat, we vote for the world we want for tomorrow. We keep feeding our kids with fears and drama, instead we need to feed them with hope.”

Emma Brown  from FareShare discussed their Surplus with Purpose Fund – making redistributing surplus food the easy option. FaseShare are pushing for government funding due to the demands on the fund to finance the harvest of waste food. With the key purpose of ensuring no good food goes to waste.

Emma challenged the conference with two key asks, if you know of surplus food get in touch and, secondly, to help us to raise awareness of the Surplus with Purpose Fund.

Food for thought indeed.