A campaign to prevent consumer food waste could save local authorities millions in disposal costs if rolled out across London.
WRAP has released the impacts of its ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ (LFHW) campaign, showing that avoidable food waste was reduced by 14% over six months in West London boroughs.
WRAP said the boroughs could have saved up to £1.3 million each year through avoided disposal costs, such as gate fees and landfill tax. Implementing the campaign fully would deliver up to £8 savings for every £1 spent, WRAP claimed.
The organisation added that if the 14% reduction in food waste was scaled up for the whole of London, the city would avoid 29,400 tonnes of food being thrown away and London local authorities could save £7.3m a year by avoiding disposal costs.
London boroughs spend over £50m a year to dispose of food collected from households, according to WRAP.
The LFHW campaign in West London, delivered between October 2012 and March 2013, was promoted with the tagline ‘You could save up to £50 per month by throwing away less food’ and by communicating to householders.
LFHW encouraged people to change key behaviours, which were monitored, including planning meals in advance; checking levels of food in cupboard and fridge prior to shopping; making a shopping list and using the freezer to extend the shelf life of food.
WRAP said London residents could save £79m if food waste fell by 14% across the whole city.
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Emma Marsh, WRAP community partnership manager, said there is a problem with mixed messaging: While preventing food waste can be promoted to the public, the promotion of anaerobic digestion, which requires food waste as feedstock can sometimes “negate” the initial call for preventing waste.
Joy Blizzard, chair Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, said many people are not interested in the food waste hierarchy and require simple and clear instructions to take part fully in food waste schemes.
Andrew Mackenzie, waste project manager North Lanarkshire Council, said a ban on food waste going to landfill would increase food waste understanding.
Dean Pearce, ReFood commercial director, said that food is one of the biggest contaminants in recycling schemes. Where councils collect food separately the recycling levels are far higher.
He also said that best practice should be introduced to TV programmes. Cooking programmes such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ should have food waste caddies rather than black bin liners to raise awareness.
- This week, MRW reported that a third of all food produced globally is wasted, causing huge environmental and economic losses, according to UN figures. The UN estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food each year is wasted, resulting in a cost of $750bn (£475bn).