7.3 million tonnes of food wasted in UK in 2015

Consumers are being encouraged to waste less food, after new figures from WRAP show that £13 billion of edible food was needlessly thrown away from homes in 2015. The latest results show that 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted, which if prevented, would have the environmental benefit of taking one in four cars off the road.

WRAP, the food waste experts that work with governments, businesses, local authorities and consumers to reduce waste, is calling for everyone to ‘Unite in the food waste fight.’

Building on the success of its work with food manufacturers and retailers that have already cut 219,000 tonnes of waste worth £100 million, WRAP’s Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement has also helped the industry prevent further food waste worth over £67 million between 2012 and 2015.

WRAP’s CEO Marcus Gover said:“Citizens are wasting one million tonnes less food per year, which means over 8 million tonnes less food waste than when we started tackling this issue in 2007. But it is incredibly challenging to reduce food waste, and the stalling of progress shows just how difficult it is. That’s why I’m calling on all businesses, organisations, campaigners and NGOs who work in this area, to unite together in in the fight against food waste. By working together we can win this battle.”

It’s not just businesses that need to unite in the food waste fight. Every person in the UK can help reduce food waste. WRAP’s research found that almost 60% of people believe they personally waste either no food or hardly any, even though people know food waste is an issue.

To help people get involved in tackling food waste, WRAP is undertaking consumer research, investigating what will motivate people to act differently, what constraints they are under and what messages and interventions will be most effective. Lessons will also be sought from our work in Wales, which has seen a reduction in household food waste of 12% per person since 2009.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:“Good progress has been made by industry to tackle food and packaging waste in the supply chain and it goes to show the achievements that can be made through working together with partners across the UK.

“But we all have a role to play and despite a million-tonne fall in domestic food waste since 2007, there is clearly more we need to do.

“That is why we will continue to work with WRAP to support their new strategy to raise awareness, increase education and change people’s perceptions of food waste.”

Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“Significant progress has been made since the figures were first reported in 2007 but as these new results show we still have a long way to go. In Wales, cutting down on the amount of food we unnecessarily dispose of is identified as a key priority in our waste strategy, Towards Zero Waste, and contributes to the goals of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.”

“It is pleasing to see that in Wales, there is evidence that household food waste levels reduced between 2009 and 2015 by 12% per person. We will continue to work with Local Authorities and householders to make every effort to reduce our food waste.”

WRAP is already uniting the retailers and manufacturers and local authorities in the fight, through its food sustainability initiative Courtauld Commitment 2025. Work has started with partners to investigate the potential ways to help millions of people reduce household food waste.

Practical solutions will be piloted and evaluated as part of the Courtauld Commitment, which could include:

Informing people when they are buying and using the most wasted food and drink products about key actions and benefits – for example by introducing a tip on top-selling products in the most wasted product categories, and using these tips consistently in other customer communications (e.g. on shelf displays)
Personalised messaging to help customers identify easy and beneficial changes in their food choices and habits, for example through online shopping, loyalty card schemes, digital receipts or apps
Common industry guidelines for storage advice (including date labelling) and product portioning for customers on key products
Engaging staff on food waste prevention behaviours in the home, and equipping them to be able to help customers in store with practical advice.

WRAP’s consumer campaign Love Food Hate Waste has been refreshed to offer tailored solutions to people to help them make the most of the food they buy. A short quiz has been developed at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com to help people find solutions that work for them. To scale up the communications to consumers Courtauld 2025 Partners are being encouraged to use LFHW tested messages.

Signatories’ quotes

Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager for the Co-op, “We are happy to support this initiative to help customers make the right choices to reduce food waste.  At the Co-op we have made significant advances in this area, including a number of packaging innovations to extend the shelf life of food and on-pack advice on how to make food last longer, and we would support any initiative that aims to cut down on the amount of food waste.”

Paul Willgoss, Director of Food Technology, Marks & Spencer, “M&S is working extremely hard across our supply chain and with our consumers on the shared goal of reducing food waste and I’m delighted to support WRAP’s strategic actions on helping to deliver a step change reduction in household food waste”

Mark Little, Head of Food Sustainability, Sourcing and Waste Policy at Tesco, “At Tesco, we are helping customers reduce food waste through improved packaging, stopping Buy One Get One Free promotions on fruit and vegetables, and putting Love Food Hate Waste tips on our Perfectly Imperfect range.  Love Food Hate Waste is a much needed campaign, and we’re committed to working together to help our customers reduce waste and save money.”

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