This week once again highlighted two things. Why food is the most important area of resource use, and as a consequence why tackling food waste will remain a priority for WRAP, as Liz Goodwin explains CIWM Journal Online Exclusive
WRAP’s Household Food & Drink Waste: a product focus, shows that at a time when food is increasingly becoming a scarce critical resource, we are still squandering too much.
Our research shows that 4.3m tonnes of edible food is thrown away each year, costing consumers around £2.4bn. The most unpalatable part is that two million tonnes of household food is discarded because it is not “used in time”, and half is thrown away whole or still in its packaging, unopened.
“Rises in global populations and middle classes will see demand for food increase dramatically, so we have a burning platform to act”
We as UK households averagely throw away the equivalent of six meals every week.
These are incredible findings, but let me also be clear that despite this we have come a long way. Since 2007, when WRAP published its ground-breaking “The food we waste” report, we have made considerable gains with household food waste reducing by 21 percent, saving consumers almost £13bn.
Collaboration in the form of the Courtauld Commitment has been a big driver, but so too has campaign Love Food Hate Waste.
Yet despite the progress, reductions in food waste have slowed, and this week’s report again shines a light on the areas for improvement.
Rises in global populations and middle classes will see demand for food increase dramatically, so we have a burning platform to act.
This is why I have called for collective action to halve avoidable food waste by 2025. I believe the next five years are critical in this journey. We, industry, governments, businesses all have a part to play.
This week we also highlighted a campaign as part of our commitment to tackling the causes of food waste. It is called the 10 cities campaign, which aims to equip people with the skills and knowledge to make the most of their food and minimise waste.
This type of action has a track record of success. It is based on a Love Food Hate Waste campaign, which took place in West London last year.
The results were hugely successful, in just six months, avoidable food waste had been cut by 14 percent. This reduction could save London boroughs around £1.3m per annum in disposal costs, and for every £1 invested, a potential £8 saved.
Now with 10 cities, this type of campaign will be rolled out nationwide to include cities such as Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.
Should we have the same success as our initial campaign, there is the potential to save a combined amount of £7m between the 10 cities taking part.
This is just for starters. Next month I will be giving a keynote address at the Westminster Forum where I will outline a whole array of new areas WRAP will be working on to prevent food waste both in the UK and increasingly internationally.
Yet it can’t be done alone. We all have a part to play, it’s in all our interests.
Liz Goodwin is an ambassador for RWM in Partnership with CIWM.