How can we reduce the 15m tonnes of food we waste each year?

Posted on Posted in Consumer Choice, Environment, Food
We waste nearly a third of all food produced in the world.  That is 1.3bn tonnes of food.  It means 1.4bn hectares, or almost 30% of the available agricultural land, is used to grow or farm food that we throw away.  At the same time 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

In the UK, we waste 15m tonnes of food each year. Nearly 50% of the total amount of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes.  It costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children to waste food.

 We waste food because we prepare or buy too much.  Food retailers such as supermarket also waste a lot of food through their production and distribution process.  The good news is that between 2007 and 2012, the amount of avoidable food waste produced by UK households decreased by 21%, from 5.3m to 4.2m tonnes.  We can reduce this even further.

As consumers, we have a lot of power in our buying choices. It’s possible to mix and match – buying Fairtrade coffee and ethically-certified fresh fish from Aldi or Lidl.  The Co-op and M&S tend to have pioneering ethical and environmental policies embedded in their operations.  Asda, Sainsbury’s and the biggest retailer, Tesco are at the bottom of the supermarket table.

Food that cannot be eaten, can be recycled.  The Food Waste Network is a free service that matches business with a food waste recycling partner. Offices, cafes, schools, restaurants and hospitals can recycle their food waste.  Recycled food waste can be used as a source of renewable energy to produce biofertiliser, returning nutrients to the soil. It can also produce renewable energy, heat, and biofuel.
What can I do?
  • Reduce food waste and save money. Love Food, Hate Waste have some great ideas & recipes for leftover food and ingredients
  • Spend your money in supermarkets with the highest ethical and environmental ratings
  • The Real Junk Food Project has a network of pay as you feel cafes.  It diverts food destined for waste and uses it to create delicious and healthy meals
  • Shop at your local independent grocery or wholefood shop; they are more likely to be a more ethical place to shop than a supermarket.
  • Use Apps to manage food in your kitchen, share leftover food with people locally or order leftover food from a restaurant.  You can also use or set up a community fridge
  • Support WRAP, who work with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve the way products works.
A partnership between FareShare and Tesco is sending unsold food to charities rather than let it be wasted.