Food waste falls, but still work to be done

Household food waste has fallen by 13% over the past three years, with significant benefits to the environment and the UK economy.

Speaking at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) annual conference today, the organisation’s chief executive said that annual household food waste has fallen from 8.3 million tonnes (mt) in 2006/7 to 7.2mt. As a result, 11mt of waste have been kept out of landfill, avoiding 5.5mt of CO2 equivalent emissions and generating £2bn of benefits to the UK economy, including £1.8bn of cost savings.

Welcoming the data, the Food and Drink Federations’s (FDF) director of sustainability and competitiveness Andrew Kyuk said: “These figures represent a significant achievement in changing consumer behaviour – which is vital step towards tackling the unacceptably high levels of food waste in the UK.  

“Sending food waste to landfill not only wastes the resources used in its production, but also adds to total greenhouse gas emissions through decomposition. This is especially true when food is wasted at the household end of the chain.”

However, Goodwin said that there was still work to be done, and pointed out that households still throw away edible food worth £12bn a year. Furthermore, she said that food waste throughout the supply chain was “significant” at a time when food security was a major global issue.

In response, Kyuk said most food waste is generated by households rather than manufacturers, which is why food manufacturers are focused on helping consumers reduce food waste through schemes such as the Courtauld Commitment 2 and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

However, he admitted that food manufacturers need to lead by example, and said that the industry was working to reduce waste in the supply chain. “Our most recent survey of waste arisings, published in 2010, showed that the industry is now sending less than 9% of its food waste to landfill and is on track to meet its target of zero food and packaging waste to landfill by 2015,” he said.