Cutting single-use plastic and food waste from our lunches

From bottles to sandwich boxes, crisps and napkins, British workers' 'lunch on the go' habit is generating 10.7 billion items of packaging waste annually, costing us £9.9 billion more than if we made our lunch at home.

Is it possible to shift our lunchtime habits to cut plastic, eat more healthily and save money? We started by investigating what led 'grab and go' to become such a big part of lunch culture here in the UK.

Setting up lunch clubs

We challenged 50 employees across Aviva, AXA, Environment Agency and BT in East Anglia to go for a month without using single-use packaging at lunchtime. Encouraging people to make their own lunch or take a container to their favourite lunchtime spots to save on plastic waste. We provided:

  1. Tailored advice: everyone received a #FoodSavvy Savings Guide with the golden rules for reducing packaging and food waste.
  2. Delicious dishes. The Lunch Club followed a three-week meal plan packed with simple, healthy, sustainable meals and were challenged to make their own meals for the trial’s final week.
  3. Cooking with Emma. Chef Emma Crowhurst demonstrated to the employees how reducing food and single-use plastic waste by making your own lunch can make you healthier and save you money. 

Five East Anglian cafes and eateries, including the AXA staff canteen, also took part in a ‘Take Away, Give Back’ scheme, offering discounts to customers who bring their own container.

The difference made

The Lunch Club:

  • Cut single-use plastic by 54%,
  • Food waste by 52%,
  • Saved 67% of participants money,
  • Encouraged 75% to eat more healthily

The #FoodSavvy Lunch Club also brought employees together, with people reporting they’ve started sharing food, as well as tips. The effects of the Lunch Club extend beyond the workplace, with people encouraging their families and friends to try out alternatives to single-use plastic and reduce their food waste with the #FoodSavvy Savings Guide. 

What a brilliant, thought provoking initiative. The #FoodSavvy Club really made me think hard about the food I waste and in particular the huge amount of plastic used in the food I buy and eat. I’ve made a number of small but really effective changes to the way I shop and carry food around that has significantly reduced my use of wasteful plastic. Why not join in and see what you can achieve.” - Dr Charles Beardall OBE, Environment Agency, Area Director, East Anglia.

 Read the press release here. 

How can you get involved?

Check out our tips for getting started with a #FoodSavvy lunch.


If you want to go further, you can set up your own Lunch Club in your workplace and encourage your colleagues to reduce their single-use plastic and food waste. Read our how to guide below. 

Set up a Lunch Club in your workplace

If you work in an eatery or cafe, encourage customers to bring their own tupperware and containers by introducing signs, tupperware discounts, or by becoming a ‘Take Away, Give Back’ site today. Get in touch for artwork and resources: [email protected]

#FoodSavvy Lunch Club has been created in collaboration with Norfolk Council and Suffolk Waste Partnership.