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The Pig Idea is a new campaign to encourage the use of food waste to feed pigs. Led by food waste expert Tristram Stuart and the Feeding the 5000 team in partnership with chef Thomasina Miers, the aim is to lift the EU ban on the feeding of catering waste, swill, to pigs.



A third of all food globally is wasted. All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US and Europe. The United Nations estimates that feeding food waste instead of commercial grains to livestock could liberate enough food to feed three billion people.

We contribute to this crisis with current legislation regarding the feeding of food waste to pigs

Around 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion (the next best recycling option). In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, laws encourage using food waste to feed pigs. But under European laws, feeding most food waste (such as catering waste) to pigs is banned.

Instead of consuming our waste food, European pigs are currently fed cereal crops and soy from
South America. This process contributes to deforestation, land hunger and pollution. 8.3 million hectares of land is required to produce just the meat and dairy products wasted in UK homes and in US homes, shops and restaurants. That is 7 times the amount of Amazon rainforest destroyed in Brazil in one year, largely for cattle grazing and soy production to export for livestock feed. The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 litres per person per day) of 9 billion people – the number expected on the planet by 2050. If we planted trees on land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

This practice not only contributes to global hunger and environmental disaster but affects economies locally.

UK pig farmers are being put out of business by expensive grain prices, when they have a ready-made food source for their livestock in the form of food waste.

It is, however, unsustainable and leading us toward disaster. Governments are too scared to support initiatives to manage and regulate the feeding of waste to pigs, fearing a lack of public support. We need to show we care and are ready for change.


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Photos & Words  = The Pig Idea

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