Food waste report shows UK families throw away 24 meals a month
- The Guardian, Wednesday 6 November 2013
The top three foods being thrown away uneaten in British homes are bread, potatoes and milk. Photograph: Nick Ansell/PA
The average UK family is wasting nearly £60 a month by throwing away almost an entire meal a day, according to a new report that reveals the scale of the ongoing challenge to reduce household food waste.
Britons are chucking out the equivalent of 24 meals a month, adding up to 4.2 million tonnes of food and drink every year that could have been consumed. Almost half of this is going straight from fridges or cupboards into the bin. One-fifth of what households buy ends up as waste, and around 60% of that could have been eaten.
There has been no progress in reducing meat and fish wastage, with Britons still throwing away the equivalent of 86 million chickens every year. The top three foods being thrown away uneaten in British homes are bread, potatoes and milk. The equivalent of 24m slices of bread, 5.8m potatoes and 5.9m glasses of milk are being wasted daily, while even cakes and pastries make it into the top 10 most wasted items.
The study by the government’s waste advisory body, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (Wrap), shows that since 2007, avoidable household food waste has been cut by 21% to 4.2m tonnes, saving consumers almost £13bn.
Wrap said that such waste should be cut a further 1.7m tonnes a year by 2025, saving up to £45bn. Its chief executive, Dr Liz Goodwin, called on retailers, manufacturers, governments and consumers to agree to a “major combined effort”.
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Europeans waste 90m tons of food per year: UN
The United Nations says Europeans throw away 90 million tons of food every year, while a significant number of people continue to go hungry in other parts of the world.
A recent UN report revealed that millions of households across Europe are throwing out a colossal amount of edible food, while millions of people around the world do not have enough food to eat, Press TV correspondent Zarya Shakely reported on Sunday.
The bulk of this waste is attributed to consumers who buy more food than they consume, the international body said.
“Because a lot of households do not know, they are not aware of how much food they waste in their households. I think when an individual is aware of the food-wasting problem, there will also be a change in other sectors in the food supply chain,” said Felicitas Schneider with the Vienna Waste Management Institute.
In Austria alone, 25 percent of all the food produced in the country is wasted each year, with the average household spending approximately 300 euros worth of unused groceries – mostly consisting of leftovers like fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy products and meat.
“I feel bad because customers only want to buy food that is fresh, and also we are not allowed to sell bad food and we are not able to do anything against this. The only thing we can do is to take it with us home,” said Dogan Kayikci, a market trader.
This is while according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), some 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted globally every year.
Experts recommend that food wastage can be reduced with better planning before shopping to get food portions right and storing food correctly to keep it fresh longer. Politicians are also encouraged to introduce policies that would reduce the level of food waste.