Reducing food waste with the Community Fridge Network

The Brief

Community fridges are a new way to tackle food waste.  Open-access fridges are placed at the heart of communities where individuals and businesses can donate unwanted fresh food for anyone in the community to take.​

In 2017, Hubbub created the world’s first Community Fridge Network. Barley handled the launch and is providing ongoing communications support.​

Our objectives are to raise local awareness of new community fridges as they open, to raise awareness of the concept nationally to encourage more communities to get involved and to raise additional funding.​ Ultimately, we are supporting Hubbub with their goal to reduce the amount of good food going to waste.

Insights and Approach

Food waste is a huge issue in the UK, with £13bn of edible food thrown away in homes annually and a further £3bn wasted by the hospitality and food service sector.

The key aim of the Network is to tackle food waste, but community fridges are also invaluable to those who need better access to fresh, healthy food. With food banks having previously been the only well-known solution to food insecurity, our messaging from the launch onwards has been carefully crafted to avoid stigmatising users of free food services.

Our approach to national media is two-pronged. We use human interest stories from individual community fridges to generate feature pieceson programmes such as The One Show, Jamie Oliver’s Friday Night Feast and Radio 4’s You and Yours.​ We also use milestones and new funding announcements to generate news coverage in consumer and trade media, including the i, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Mail online.

When Hubbub wanted to spread the news about community fridges to new audiences, we engaged the support of former Masterchef winner Natalie Coleman and Instagram zero waste chef Max La Manna. We integrated communications to arrange broadcast interviews with the chefs while they were with us filming pieces for social media.

In 2020, we worked within Covid restrictions to handle media around the 100th community fridge, which was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales on his Dumfries House estate. We hosted the Sunday Telegraph’s Xanthe Clay at the launch, leading to a full-page feature on the Community Fridge Network. We also worked with PA Media to produce high quality video and images from the day, which led to nationwide coverage.

The Outcome

Our communications have helped to attract funding and equipment for the expansion of the Community Fridge Network from supermarket chains and fridge manufacturers. Local media coverage has driven community engagement – the network is now redistributing an average of 975 tonnes of food surplus per year in the UK, equal to approximately 1.9 million meals. Hubbub has responded to over 2,000 expressions of interest about community fridges.

2021 is set to be an exciting year for the Community Fridge Network, with support from Co-op enabling a further 100 fridges to be opened by the end of the year.

Find your nearest community fridge 


pieces of coverage



opportunities to see/hear


community fridges opened



of food redistributed per year



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It is a joy working with Barley. They combine great strategic insight with an ability to tenaciously deliver results. On top of that they are an absolute pleasure to work with.

Trewin Restorick | CEO, Hubbub