Figures for the levels of UK food waste have been restated by WRAP as part of a drive for greater international consistency in measurement, reporting and action on food waste.
WRAP has restated the way UK household food waste is defined and described, to conform to the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLWS), which will allow for easier like-for-like comparisons to be made between nations, as more comparable data becomes available from different countries through FLWS.
This is the international standard and measure which WRAP helped develop with partners including the World Resources Institute, The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Consumer Goods Forum and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
WRAP has restated the 2015 data for household food waste, and for key historical years, using the international definitions and classifications for food waste, meaning it no longer classifies food waste under the categories of ‘avoidable’, ‘possibly avoidable’ or ‘unavoidable’ food waste, but simply as either “wasted food” (edible parts), or the associated inedible parts.
The move also coincides with the publication of the official Courtauld Commitment 2025 (C2025) baseline for the year 2015, against which progress to reduce UK food waste will be measured. The C2025 baseline covers household food waste as well as data for the supply chain: retail, manufacture and the hospitality & food service sector. This is the first time the UK has had a complete and comparable estimate for total food waste, post farm gate, for the same year.
The Key Findings
Key points to note for the restated food waste figures, and C2025 baseline include:
- Total estimate for UK post-farm food waste (2015) remains 10.2m tonnes.
- Total household food waste (HHFW) is now reported as 7.1m tonnes rather than 7.3m tonnes. This is entirely due to food purchased for human consumption, but ultimately fed to animals (200,000 tonnes), no longer being classified as ‘food waste’.
- The amount of household food that could have been eaten (edible parts) is 70% of the total HHFW, or 5m tonnes, worth an estimated £15bn. This is higher than the 4.4Mt reported previously for ‘avoidable’ food waste due to the change in classification (ie bringing in most of what was previously classed as ‘possibly avoidable’).
- In total, around 3.1 million tonnes of food waste occurred in the entire supply chain in 2015.
Peter Maddox, Director at WRAP explains: “We have some big activities planned for this year aimed at driving down food waste in the supply chain and in the home, and this is a good time to bring our numbers into line with the international standards. WRAP was instrumental in developing the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard, and it’s imperative that all nations report using this approach so progress can be measured uniformly. Restating our own figures will encourage other countries to report using the standard, and consistency is crucial in the fight against food waste.
“I’m very pleased too that we can publish a more detailed assessment of food waste across the entire UK supply chain in the baseline for Courtauld 2025. This shows the full extent of food waste across the supply chain, and makes the scale of the problem very clear. Cutting food waste isn’t something any of us can do in isolation, and we all have a lot of work to do. But delivering Courtauld 2025 will mean 1.5 million tonnes less food ends up as waste every year, by 2025.”
Reductions in UK household food waste amounted to around one million tonnes a year in 2015, compared to food waste levels in 2007. WRAP has previously reported reductions in supply chain food waste of around 250,000 tonnes a year from signatories to its voluntary agreements (Courtauld Commitment 2 and 3, and the Hospitality and Food Service Agreement*), but C2025 faces an even greater challenge. C2025 targets apply to the whole supply chain, meaning that reductions must be achieved by both signatories and non-signatories.
WRAP will report on progress towards Courtauld 2025 targets in 2019, 2022 and 2026.