Energy & environment Food and nutrition

Zero waste

In the UK alone, 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted by families every year, equivalent to £700 per household. How can we get better at buying, storing, using, and reusing our food?

Food waste is a huge problem across the world. As well as being expensive and a questionable use of resources, it is a major contributor to climate change. According to a 2018 study, around 6% of total global greenhouse gas emissions come from food that never gets eaten. And DEFRA estimates that if food waste were a country, it’d be the third largest emitter after the US and China.

In the UK alone, households waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food every year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). That amounts to £14billion worth of food waste, or £700 per family – a significant dent in anyone’s grocery bill. Factor in the retail supply chain and the hospitality sector, and the total rises to 6.4 million tonnes (or 9.5 million tonnes, when you count the parts of the food that can’t be eaten anyway).

These figures, from 2018, are lower than they were in previous years. Households wasted 26% less edible food, worth around £4.8billion, than they did in 2007. However, more progress is needed if the UK is to meet the United Nations target of halving food waste by 2030.

Read the rest of this article in the March-May 2021 edition of Overseas

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