Study finds 23% of material discarded by NI households was food that could have been eaten


Food waste

Food makes up 30% of the items in the average general household waste bin in Northern Ireland. 23% of the contents of the household waste bin could have been eaten, new data from WRAP shows.

According to WRAP’s Recycling Tracker Survey 2023 for Northern Ireland (NI), 80% of households in NI recycle their food waste. The Recycling Tracker is an annual survey of UK households by WRAP that gathers evidence on recycling attitudes, knowledge, and behaviour. ​

However, WRAP said new data shows households could save up to £80 per month or £1,000 a year by using all the food they buy.

A new campaign, led by Recycle Now – which is backed by WRAP – in partnership with DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of NI), aims to encourage households to not let their food go to waste and recycle inedible items using food waste caddies, instead of putting food waste into their general rubbish bins.

Needlessly putting food in the bin impacts both our pockets and the planet. 

Craig Stephens, Campaigns Manager, Recycle Now, said: “We want this campaign to encourage everyone in Northern Ireland to think twice about where they are getting rid of their food waste and to use their food caddy rather than the general rubbish bin.

“The resources that go into producing our food – the water, the transportation, and the energy to chill foods at every step of the supply chain from farm to fork – are also wasted when we throw food away.

“Needlessly putting food in the bin impacts both our pockets and the planet. By recycling our food waste, we can save money while creating compost and green energy instead.”

WRAP said most food waste in NI is collected with garden waste in the same outdoor bin. From there, it gets broken down and processed into compost, soil conditioner and fertilisers for agriculture.

Rachael Hook, Head of Resources & Waste Strategy, DAERA, commented: “We are keen to see food waste prevented or reduced as much as possible. Not only will households save money by throwing away less food, but it also helps our environment.

“Food that isn’t eaten or recycled often ends up in landfill where it can emit harmful greenhouse gases for many decades, contributing to climate change.”

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