A day of target-beating, food waste reduction and ground-breaking research
Tuesday, 15th November 2011
Dr Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP
Today’s an exciting day for us here at WRAP. This is because it’s the day of our annual conference, which I admit, probably doesn’t sound that exciting.
But on this occasion, it really is. Not only are we unveiling the results of our three-year business plan which show we beat all our headline targets, but we’re also releasing ground-breaking research into the benefits of reuse. And perhaps the most exciting of all, is the news we're sharing about the amount of food we waste.
Our latest figures to report show that the amount of household food waste has fallen from 8.3 million tonnes a year to 7.2 million. Of course, this is good news, and no doubt there are several factors at play here. However, we are still throwing away more than seven million tonnes of food and drink away every year – costing us around £12 billion a year. So there is still much work to be done.
With that in mind I’ve no hesitation in repeating a recommendation I often make on my blog – that you visit the excellent Love Food Hate Waste web site. Here, you can pick up all kinds of help and advice that could help you reduce the amount of food you throw away – and save money on your monthly shopping bill at the same time.
Tackling food waste has been just one of many major programmes we’ve been involved in. This morning, I spent a few minutes talking about some of the activities we’ve been working on over the past three years, and I was delighted to be able to say we had met all our published major business plan targets.
This means we helped keep 11 million tonnes of waste out of landfill, avoided 5.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions and generated £2bn of benefits to the UK economy, including £1.8bn of cost savings.
We’re encouraged by what WRAP and its many partners have achieved over the past three years – and as I always say, it is actually the people we work with who make the changes. Our role is to provide evidence, tools, guidance and support. We know there is still much work to be done, and this morning, we published the first major research into the benefits of greater reuse of every-day household items such as televisions and sofas.
By reuse, I mean a simple way of extending a product’s life. This could include donating items to, or buying from your local charity shops, using on-line exchange websites, or giving to and receiving from your family and friends.
This new research tells us that there would be significant gains for both the UK economy and the environment, through reusing goods and services more, rather than just throwing them away.
The findings point to the fact that if we improved our levels of reuse – and extracted the maximum life from goods – we could reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions by almost four million tonnes every year between now and 2020.
It also shows that for most items, reuse has better environmental impacts than either recycling or energy recovery.
I know that many of us are already discovering the benefits of reuse, but we think the scale is relatively small. For example, between us, we’re currently making savings of more than £1 billion - just on the items we looked at as part of our research, such as televisions, sofas, washing machines and office furniture.
If these savings were to be scaled up, with more of us reusing more items, the potential for positive financial impact is enormous, and over the coming months, WRAP will be investigating how this potential can be maximised.
If you’d like to know more about any of these areas, you click on the links, visit the WRAP website or watch a recording of our annual conference here.