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78% of school food waste is avoidable, claims WRAP report

Up to 78% of food waste generated in schools is avoidable, a WRAP study has found.

Its Food Waste in Schools report estimated that of the 80,382 tonnes of food waste generated yearly in primary and secondary schools nationwide, up to 77% of secondary and 78% of primary school waste was found to be avoidable. ‘Avoidable food’ refers to “any food waste item typically intended for consumption” including uneaten fruit, unopened or partially eaten yoghurts, unserved dinners and damaged or gone off food.

The study surveyed 39 schools in three phases: compositional analysis of food waste, qualitative research in schools and trialling a range of interventions which were viewed as likely to reduce food waste arisings. Interventions included a system whereby meals were cooked to order, improving canteen environments and queuing systems and encouraging pupils to try new foods with taster sessions and kitchen visits.

WRAP director of local government services Phillip Ward said: “It doesn’t make sense for food to be wasted if that can be avoided and, in most cases, it can. Apart from the cost and the carbon emissions, this waste means that pupils are missing out on the balanced nutrition they need.” 

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