Some 330,000 meals have been saved from ending up on the rubbish heap in Ireland in the past year due to the efforts of some 1,800 volunteers using the Olio free sharing app.
About 15,000 of these meals were saved from the bin during Christmas week.
Olio’s volunteers, known as “food waste heroes”, have collected 131 tonnes of surplus food from Tesco Ireland, the app’s partner, and redistributed it across the country.
The volunteers pick up unsold but still edible food from supermarkets daily and list it on the app free of charge, allowing others in the community to collect and consume it.
Olio co-founder Tessa Clarke said: “As we enter a time where food waste is often at its highest, it is great to see such an active community of people joining together to fight waste, while helping out their neighbours.
“Our partnership with Tesco Ireland has resulted in a massive 656,000 items of food being diverted from waste in just over a year.
“Food waste accounts for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions and is the single largest emitting sector.
“If we are to fix the climate crisis, preventing food waste should be a priority.”
Since the Olio app first partnered with Tesco in November 2021, fruit and vegetables accounted for the most shared items (37 per cent), followed by dairy and eggs (32 per cent) and bakery (24 per cent).
Waterford-based Sarah Karam signed up as a volunteer in June, collecting from two Tesco stores, and has so far handed out 526 items, saving the equivalent of more than 1,260 meals and 396,000 litres of water.
“It took a couple of weeks to get established but I have people who regularly collect from me and any food I post on Olio is gone within an hour,” said the 33-year-old.
“Fruit, veg and ready-made meals are always the first to go.
“I’ve made some great friends through the app – including other Food Waste Heroes in Waterford.
“We help each other out and are all determined to reduce the environmental impact of food waste, which, in my own home, is less than 1 per cent.”
After Dublin, the most active counties using Olio to share food with the app’s 72,000 Irish subscribers are Cork, Louth, Limerick and Waterford.
A total of 534 collections are made each week nationwide – and on Christmas Eve alone, volunteers picked up surplus food from 30 Tesco stores, including Dolphin’s Barn in Dublin, Mullingar in Co Westmeath, and Tuam, Co Galway.
Tesco, as the app’s official partner, accounts for around 98 per cent of the total meals.