UK Households are Wasting 4.5M Tonnes of Edible Food a Year

October 6 2020

The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has published a new report outlining the fact that UK households are wasting around 4.5million tonnes of perfectly edible food each year.

WRAP works with businesses and organisations to help and reduce food waste, significantly reduce the use of plastic and has been tracking this progress since 2007 across the United Kingdom. 

According to their recent report, the UK is making significant steps in reducing food waste, so much so that total levels between 2015-18 have fallen by 480,000 tonnes, which is the equivalent of 7% per person.

WRAP has suggested this decline could be linked to a number of contributing factors including clearer food labelling, a heightened public awareness and more local authorities offering food waste collections.

Despite the progress, the report details that UK households are continuing to waste 4.5m tonnes of food annually, which it estimates to be worth £14bn – the equivalent to £700 a year for an average family with children.

WRAP adds that household food waste represents 70% of all food waste triggered after the food has been grown or produced, with potatoes the single most wasted food in the UK. 

Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP, comments: “We are starting to wake up to the reality of food waste, but we are too often turning a blind eye to what is happening in our homes. We are all thinking about what we can do for the environment and this is one of the most simple and powerful ways we can play our part. By wasting less food, we are helping to tackle the biggest challenges this century – feeding the world while protecting our planet.”

Last year, more than 100 UK food businesses and organisations pledged to reduce their food waste following a call to action from the government with Sainsbury’s Director of Brand Judith Batchelar, describing food waste as “one of the biggest challenges currently facing today’s society”, and “an intrinsic part of our combined response to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change”.

Many retailers are therefore already working with farmers to reduce food waste before it gets on the shelves, to ensure that the amount of produce they are providing is in line with quantities the supermarket’s customers are buying.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a shift in UK consumer food and buying habits with concerns about shopping and running out of food motivating people to waste less, but resolve appears to have weakened along with the restrictions.

WRAP has identified that self-reported food waste is currently up by 30% since the easing of restrictions; reversing the progress made at the start of the pandemic, as consumers threw away far less food during the lockdown.

Launching their new campaign –Keep Crushing It, WRAP aims to positively motivate people to ‘keep up the good work’ they began in lockdown, including checking fridge temperatures, freezing more food and making shopping lists, rather than impulse buying or shopping when hungry! 

It is hoped that the new campaign will highlight the environmental benefits of reducing food waste. If the UK stopped wasting bread for example, the amount of CO2 equivalent saved each year would equal more than half a million return flights from London to New York! 

Helen White, WRAP’s Special Adviser on household food waste comments – “Wasting less food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It can be as simple as leaving the skin on when you make mash, or freezing more food before it passes the ‘use by’ date.”

At St Ewe we are doing all we can to reduce our impact on the environment and by utilising our seconds in our Liquid Egg range and bringing brands to the market such as Hen Picked® we can use our pullets and small eggs, offering great value for money and staying true to our ethos of finding a home for every one of our delicious free-range eggs.