The impact of using your fridge and freezer more effectively

Making better use of domestic fridges and freezers can help food last longer resulting in less waste.

However, it is recognised that lower fridge temperatures, and chilling & freezing more food, can only be achieved with additional energy consumption. Through a literature review and experimental trials, the research estimates the carbon impact and financial costs of more effective fridge and freezer use by consumers.

Key findings/actions:

  • The literature review suggested that storage lives of the majority of chilled foods would be increased if fridge temperatures could be lowered (e.g. from 7°C to 4°C). Storage life extensions were typically equivalent to an additional 3 days of storage life.
  • The potential annual UK waste savings resulting both from lowering fridge temperature and refrigerating foods which are predominantly stored at ambient temperatures (but would benefit from being refrigerated), taking into account the additional energy use, leads to a net benefit of around £200 million and a net reduction of around 210,000 tonnes CO2e.
  • The financial value and embodied CO2e emissions of food waste saved by using the freezer more effectively were over 100 times higher than the cost and CO2e emissions associated with the extra energy required to freeze the food.

Click here to read the full report

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: