Down the drain

November 2009

The report presents the findings of a study in which householders recorded  the quantities of food and drink that they were disposing of down the drain.

The quantity of food and drink disposed of down household drains each year in the UK is estimated to be 1.8 million tonnes. Most of this could have been avoided if it had been better stored in the home or with better planning or preparation.

We dispose of food and drink down the drain mainly because of having cooked, prepared or served too much and occasionally because of mistakes made during preparation resulting in the food being spoiled.

By far the greatest amount disposed down household drains is of drink and dairy. The key groups of food, disposed in the greatest quantities overall were:

  • Drink
  • Dairy and eggs
  • Meals
  • Condiments, sauces, herbs & Spices
  • Staple foods
  • Meat and fish
  • Processed vegetable and salads

Individual types of food and drink disposed of in the greatest quantities are milk, then carbonated soft drinks, then fruit juice and smoothies.

Disposing of food and drink down the drain is estimated to cost consumers £2.7 billion annually.

Wasting food and drink impacts on the environment. Approximately 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions are associated with food and drink that could have been consumed being disposed of down the drain. Most of these emissions come from the production, storage and distribution of all that food and drink that could have been eaten.

Overall this report shows there is an opportunity to reduce waste, save money and minimise our impact on the environment.

November 2013 Update

WRAP published new estimates on how much food and drink is disposed annually from UK households in November 2013.  The breakdown of avoidable food and drink waste has been updated along with the associated value and environmental impact figures. Go to: