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Food waste down - but still costs UK £12bn

Household food waste has fallen 13% over the past three years but the UK still throws away edible food worth £12bn a year.

The research comes from WRAP whose chief executive Dr Liz Goodwin said the fall in such waste since 2007 was 1.1 million tonnes - down from 8.3 million tonnes to 7.2 million tonnes in 2010.

But Goodwin said there was “a big job still to be done” on domestic food waste and that food wasted throughout the supply chain was “significant” at a time when food security was a major global issue.

Food and Drink Federation director of sustainability and competitiveness Andrew Kuyk said: “These figures represent a significant achievement in changing consumer behaviour - which is a vital step towards tackling the unacceptably high levels of food waste in the UK.

“Our most recent survey of waste arisings, published in 2010, showed that the industry is now sending less than 9% of its food waste to landfill and is on track to meet its target of zero food and packaging waste to landfill by 2015.”

British Retail Consortium head of environment Bob Gordon said: “The scale of the waste reduction achieved shows retailers successfully educating and encouraging customers to change the way they buy and manage food.

“It’s also good to see local authorities taking more responsibility. Rising numbers of separate collections are making more households aware of their food waste and the need to tackle it.

“Retailers are working to take these gains further but also to make progress in areas such as the assessment and reduction of the whole-life environmental impact of products.”

Key findings of the food waste research:

  • UK household food waste fell from 8.3 million tonnes in 2006/07 to 7. 2 million tonnes in 2010, a fall of 13%
  • One-fifth of all food bought is wasted
  • 950,000 tonnes of the 1.1 million tonnes reduction was food that could have been eaten
  • Of the 7.2 million tonnes thrown away in 2010, 4.4 million tonnes could have been eaten
  • The three-year reduction has saved councils up to £80m by sending less food to the tip they are incurring less landfill charges
  • The savings amount to around 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 a year, and almost a billion litres of water
  • Avoidable household food waste is worth around £12bn - around £680 a year for the average family with children


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