Over Four Million Tonnes Of UK Household Food Waste Is “Fit To Eat”

19-09-13(5)picDefra has published its Food Statistics Pocket Book 2013, which looks at the state of the UK’s food waste, estimating that around 15m tonnes of food is wasted per year, with households generating 7.2m tonnes per year of which 4.4m tonnes is avoidable.

The Food Statistics Pocket Book 2013 looks at food and drink waste through the UK food chain and has estimated that 4.4m tonnes of food that is waste is actually fit to eat.

The report says that WRAP estimates a 1.1m tonnes reduction of food waste between 2006 and 2010, although it says more work is needed to reconcile estimates of purchases, consumption and waste.

The hospitality sector disposed of around 600,000 tonnes of food waste to landfill in 2009, of which almost 400,000 tonnes was avoidable.

Total food waste generated by schools in England is estimated at 80,000 tonnes (67,000 tonnes classed as avoidable or potentially avoidable). Of this, 55,000 tonnes is generated by primary schools.

Estimates are based on peer-reviewed studies and Defra said that accuracy varies, with some being indicative only.

Household Food Waste

Overall 15 percent of edible food and drink purchases are wasted each year. Different foods are wasted at different rates; 17 percent of overall food purchases, 7.1 percent of soft drinks and 6.3 percent of alcoholic drinks are wasted.

Avoidable food and drink waste in the home is estimated by WRAP at £12bn per year or £480 per household. “Not used in time” is often cited as the reason for throwing away food. Bread is the most wasted food with 32 percent of edible purchases being wasted. Bread crusts were not classed as edible in this analysis.

Vegetables and potatoes are wasted at a similar rate (24 percent), equivalent to 730 thousand tonnes of edible vegetables and 400 thousand tonnes of edible potatoes wasted per year.

UK Hospitality Sector

Waste going to landfill from the UK hospitality sector in 2009 is estimated at 1.5m tonnes, which includes 600 thousand tonnes10 of food waste (41 percent). The majority of this, 400 thousand tonnes, Defra said, is avoidable.

Pubs and restaurants generate more food waste than hotels and quick service restaurants combined. WRAP estimates that UK Hospitality businesses pay around £1.02bn a year buying food that is subsequently wasted. Most food waste from this sector heads to landfill but WRAP estimates that £6.6m a year could be saved if this waste went for anaerobic digestion.

Why Is Food Wasted?

According to the report, over half of meal-leavers eating out linked leaving food to various aspects of portion sizes. 41 percent of meal-leavers stated that one of the reasons why they had left food was because the portion size was too big and 11 percent stated that they ordered/served themselves too much.

A large proportion of meal-leavers tend to leave food when eating out in pubs, hotels or restaurants than other venues, according to the study. The tendency to leave food at these venues could be that these diners attach more value to enjoying a meal out in a social setting than diners who are simply out to “re-fuel”.

The research showed that customers take into account how much the meal cost before deciding whether to leave food and what part of the meal to leave.

Food Waste Collections

Local authorities in the UK collected 315,218 tonnes of separately collected food waste for recycling from households in 2012, a 29 percent increase on 2011.

In 2012, over 5m UK households received a food waste collection service, up by around 26 percent on 2011.

In 2010, 3.8m tonnes of food waste in England was part of total local authority collected waste, a reduction of around 840,000 tonnes from 4.7m tonnes in 2006-07.

Attitudes And Behaviours

According to the pocket book, 33 percent of consumers cited “food waste” as a bigger concern than 16 percent who were concerned with “the way foods are packaged”.

The Spring 2013 Tracker Survey conducted by WRAP shows that consumers are still misinterpreting food date labelling, with 38 percent understanding the “use-by date” message.

Most response levels have not changed between the tracker survey conducted in Spring 2011 and the more recent Spring 2013 survey. However when consumers were
asked “the possibility of saving money encourages me to try and minimise food waste”; this response level increased significantly from 75 percent in Spring 2011 to 78 percent in Spring 2013.

CLICK HERE for the complete Food Statistics Pocket Book 2013


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