A third of food is thrown away

British households are throwing away around a third of all the food they buy, amounting to 6.7m tonnes every year.

This staggering statistic has been released by Government waste body WRAP, which plans to publish a detailed report of its findings at the end of the month.

According to the edited highlights, only half of this food waste would be edible, while the rest comprises of things like bones, vegetable peelings and tea bags.

Nevertheless, this means that for every pound being spent on food around 16p is being wasted.

A lot of the waste is simply down to too much food being prepared, with cooked food more likely to end up in the bin than the raw ingredients.

Of our uncooked food, fruit and vegetables are the most likely to be thrown away without being used, followed by bread and cakes.

Wasted food makes up 19% of domestic waste, so even small reductions in every household would have a significant impact on total levels.

The most common reasons given for throwing out food were:

  • Buying more than was needed and poorly planned shopping

  • Storage – fridges are often too warm, though this throws up a conflict of interest between waste and energy efficiency agendas

  • Not eating short shelf life items before their use by date

  • Children’s food likes and dislikes

  • Informal or unplanned eating patterns leading to food bought that is not needed.

    Jennie Price, chief executive of WRAP, said: “Our research has found that about half of the food we throw away could have been eaten.

    “There is a real opportunity here for us to both save some money and help the environment by making a few small changes. The striking point which emerges from the research is that only 10% of those asked realised they were throwing much food away.”

    This is both an important consumer and environmental issue as around 20% of our climate change emissions are related to the production, processing, transportation and storage of food.

    Sam Bond

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