Almost three tenths (28%) of people in the capital waste 10% or more of the fruit and veg they purchase each weekly, research from UK food tech firm It’s Fresh found. This figure is noticeably higher than the national average of 22%.

The survey of more than 2,000 British adults found that more than a third (37%) get rid of their food alongside general waste because there is no separate provision for the disposal of food waste in their borough.

Just over a half (51%) of London residents who throw away fruit and veg said they felt guilty for doing so, while 32% said they felt said throwing away fresh produce.

“The research clearly shows people are deeply frustrated by the food they’re forced to throw away and that this waste is mainly down to food not being used in time,” It’s Fresh co-founder Simon Lee said.

Around half of the UK’s food waste total – around 7.3 million tonnes – derives from the home, equating to around £470 worth of food being needlessly discarded every year by the average household.

Previous evidence has suggested that a generational gap in attitudes towards eating is helping to fuel the UK’s food waste mountain, driven by time-poor millennials who do not understand the value of the food on their plate.

It’s Fresh’s own research found that across the UK, a staggering 92% of 18-24 year olds throw away fruit and veg each week, which is 17% more than the UK average (75%) and 30% more than those aged 65+ (62%).

Lee said that people should be given wider access to technological advances to help them reduce the amount they waste.

“A lot of this waste is genuinely needless – fresh food can and should last longer and more needs to be done with technology to make this happen,” Lee said.

Waste innovations

Technology is set to become an increasingly powerful tool in helping retailers and environmental organisations to engage consumers on food waste reduction. There are already plenty of tech solutions on the market, such as Tesco’s pilot of a barcode-based device which gives shoppers reminders to use or freeze food before expiry, and suggests daily recipe ideas.

Another typical innovation available to consumers now is the FridgeCam – a device which keeps track of what its owners have in stock and when it expires, sending alerts to buy new items when necessary.

It’s Fresh has developed its own solution to the issue; the firm has created a sheet-like filter that functions as a sponge to absorb ethylene, which is emitted by fruits and some vegetables as they begin to ripen. It’s Fresh claims that this filter can extend the shelf life of fresh produce by up to four days.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie