I was not surprised (and in fact, reassured) to see so much thoughtful coverage today of the critically-important issue of global food waste – a top priority for WRAP.
I hope that #foodwaste is trending on Twitter because this is something that really matters, not only to us here in the UK, but globally. Wasting food means we’re wasting money, resources, water and energy, and all at a time when so many millions across the world are starving.
We’ve carried out a considerable amount of research into this area already, and through Love Food Hate Waste and other initiatives, we’ve helped households across the UK reduce food waste from 8.3m tonnes a year to 7.2m tonnes.
Of this, 4.4 million tonnes is avoidable food waste. This avoidable food waste has a value of £12 billion per year, and is costing the average family £480 every year. Given the current economic climate, getting more from the food we buy and making the household budget go further are even more important to us all.
Our research shows that there is a range of reasons why we waste food. We often cook, prepare and serve too much, or allow food to go off. Lack of planning, misunderstanding date labels, getting portion sizes wrong and lack of knowledge of how to store food to keep it fresher for longer, and how to use leftovers all contribute to food waste. If any of this is ringing bells with you, please visit lovefoodhatewaste.com and check out the great advice available there.
The good news is that since 2006/7, millions of people are throwing away less food and saving money for their households. But, as the IMechE report reminds us, there’s still much to do – we’re still wasting more than 7m tonnes a year - and people could be saving money today by taking steps to make the best use of the food they buy.
WRAP is working closely with food and drink retailers and brands to reduce waste in the supply chain through the Courtauld Commitment, and in October last year, we announced news of significant progress – signatories had already achieved an 8.8% reduction in the amount of food and packaging waste against a target of 5%.
More than 100 organisation have already signed up to this agreement, which aims to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted, to 70% by 2015.
These initiatives are all evidence of the collective desire that’s out there to tackle this issue. Awareness is one thing: but actually making change happen is another, and that’s where I believe we at WRAP can help make a difference.