Food waste is falling in the UK

The UK’s food waste figures are heading in the right direction, but there’s still more to do, writes WRAP Special Advisor Helen White.

A few weeks back, our new data revealed that the amount of food we waste in the UK is finally falling, at a rate of 7% per person. In the last three years, there has been an almost half-a-million-tonne reduction in total UK food waste – enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall 10 times over.

 

The new data comes from WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025 Milestone Progress Report, which sets out progress in food waste reduction since 2007. It shows that householder and business efforts to tackle the problem have accelerated; with a greater rate of progress from 2015 to 2018 than during the preceding five years.

Looking back to when WRAP began work on household food waste (the stuff that comes from our homes) a total of 1.4 million tonnes has been saved from going to waste each year compared to 2007 levels. That’s enough each year to fill 150,000 food collection trucks which, if placed end to end, would stretch from London to Prague.

Whilst progress is good, there is still much more to do – across the whole food chain. The report shows that UK households still waste 4.5 million tonnes of good food that could have been eaten, worth £14 billion every year (£700 for an average family with children). This volume of wasted food equates to a staggering 10 billion meals.

The decrease in household food waste can be attributed to a range of factors including: heightened public awareness through WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, clearer labelling on food packaging and more local authorities, like yours, offering residents separate food waste collections in line with WRAP’s Framework for More Consistent Collections. The latest data shows that separate food waste collection schemes are significantly associated with lower total household food waste arisings.

And whilst this is the most significant drop in household food waste since 2010, WRAP’s latest annual citizen survey found that despite more of the public being aware of the issue of food waste, less than half of the population (39 per cent) connect wasting food at home with its impact on the environment. Based on self-reported estimates for the most-commonly wasted foods (potatoes, bread, chicken and milk) it appears around one in three people would still be classified as high food wasters. We are, therefore, keen to continue working closely with local authorities, governments, businesses and citizens to address food waste throughout 2020.

As part of this, we have just launched the Citizens Food Waste Behaviour Change grant, opening up a pot of funding to support projects in England that are actively encouraging citizens to waste less food. You can find out more here: https://www.wrap.org.uk/content/citizen-food-waste-behaviour-change-grant.

We are excited about the progress made so far and are looking forward to taking further strides to keep on reducing the amount of UK food waste.

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