Household Food & Drink Waste – A Product Focus

22nd November 2016

This report provides extensive details about household food and drink waste including detailed reasons about why it is thrown away, the size of individual instances of waste and the proportion of food left in packaging. 

Key points
2 million tonnes of household food is discarded because it is not ‘used in time’, half of which is thrown away whole or in unopened packaging, costing consumers around £2.4bn a year
In a third of cases, passing a date label triggered disposal, while foods judged by consumers to have ‘gone off’ before they could be eaten (mouldy, stale etc.) were responsible for most of the remaining 1.3 million tonnes



In November 2013, WRAP published Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012{link to report}, which quantified the amounts, types and reasons for food being wasted from UK households.

As part of that research, two datasets were collected that included details of what was wasted from individual households in addition to information from questionnaires relating to characteristics of those households. One dataset originated from diary based research and the second from compositional analysis of household waste (conducted with informed consent) .

Although a large amount of information was published in that previous report, there were additional analyses that could be performed on these datasets to yield information useful to those working to reduce household food waste.

This report presents details of the types and state of food thrown away: for instance, it includes whether items were packed, whether this packaging was opened and, where it was thrown away in its packaging, how much was left in the pack. The distribution of size of instances of waste is also presented. There is also detailed information on why food is thrown away and which meals are associated with the most waste. These insights will help WRAP and its partners develop more effective ways to help people waste less food. In particular, they highlight how sharing best practice between food categories could lead to significant waste reductions. Three recommendations are:

  • Provide a range of competitively-priced pack sizes with clear on-pack guidance on storage and freezing;
  • Continue to communicate what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ mean, whilst ensuring they are correctly applied and set to be as long as possible;; and
  • Accelerate the roll out, and increase public awareness, of the ‘freeze before date mark’ label (replacing ‘freeze on day of purchase’).

To find out more information, including the full conclusions of this work, use the link below to download the full report:

Download the report >>



To find out more information related to this tool, please use the following links:

Food and Drink >>
Courtauld 2025 Commitment >>
Household Waste Prevention Hub >>
WRAP’s Consistency Project >>



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