Despite a reduction in the amount of food being wasted, new figures reveal that UK households still throw away 1 million tonnes of untouched and unopened food, much of which could be saved.
The phenomenon has a cost of around £2.4 billion per year – £90 per family – according to a new report by the Waste Resource Action Programme (Wrap).
Most of the food is thrown away because it has passed by its eat-by date, but some goes to the bin because it is not stored properly and attracts mould or goes stale.
Overall, Britons threw away 4.2 million tonnes of food in 2012, an amount that was avoidable according to the report. This is despite previous research by Wrap showing that there had been a 21% reduction in the phenomenon.
The organisation said in the report that more has to be done to further tackle food waste and calls for consumers to use freezers more and plan meals in advance before going shopping. It adds retailers and producers should provide clearer guidance on storing.
It also said that pack sizes might have to be rethought, as much of the waste occurs in amounts more than 50g, so that every person, including busy people or singles, can buy food in a size that is more suitable to them.
The report says, “This research provides essential information to those working with their customers, their residents and members of the community to help people to change their behaviours and waste less. It is a significant finding that the majority of avoidable food waste is being thrown away in quantities that everyone can take action to prevent, with the largest instances more likely to be avoidable food waste.
“Taking every opportunity to provide tips and guidance, or challenging existing practice and making changes to products and packaging, could deliver substantial benefits.”
In September last year, figures by the UK’s Global Food Security (GFS) revealed that up to 40% of edible food may be refused by retailers because it is ‘ugly’.
Photo: Kalyan Kanuri via Flickr