With household budgets being tighter than ever before, UK households are now throwing away 13% less food than they were doing only 3 years ago. These figures come courtesy of the government’s WRAP, or Waste and Resource Action Programme, and it says that whilst we threw away 8.3m tonnes of food waste in 2007, but only 7.2m tonnes in 2010. That is still, however, enough food to fill Wembley Stadium up to the roof.
Even though this is still a significant reduction, 20% of all food purchased still goes to waste, and 60% of this is still fit for consumption. With Christmas around the corner, it is also worth looking at the figures released by DEFRA in 2010, which estimates that over the festive period families will throw away a whopping 230,000 tonnes of food.
WRAP’s chief executive, Dr Liz Goodwin, said “Despite the reduction, the food we waste in homes which accounts for about half the UK’s food waste, is still worth £12bn a year as a result of food-price inflation. The food that is being wasted throughout the supply chain is significant, at a time when food security is a major global issue,” she said.
Greenhouse gas emissions, associated with the manufacture, distribution, storage, use and disposal of wasted food, are still at a worrying 17 million tonnes. Although sending less waste food to the tip has saved councils £80m a year due to lower landfill charges, more can be done and households can help to reduce this cost further still.
Richard Barker, CEO of food waste recycling firm BiogenGreenfinch says “Each Christmas we see a large increase in the amount of food sent to our three anaerobic digestion plants around the country. In these austere times we would encourage households to realistically consider what they will purchase, store and cook over the festive period in order to reduce the amount of food wasted.
However there will always be some food wasted and where this occurs, sending it to be processed by anaerobic digestion to produce power for homes is a far more sensible option than throwing it into the ground to cause pollution.”
BiogenGreenfinch takes household food waste from 12 local councils around the country and processes it to produce electricity for the national grid and a fertiliser for crops.