UK households wasted food worth more than £13 billion in 2015, a new report has shown.
Over 7.3 million tonnes of household food was thrown away, an increase of 300,000 in three years; that's enough to fill over half a billion lorries. The report, from advisory body Wrap, concluded that 4.4 million tonnes wasted was edible and avoidable.
Rising incomes have coincided with falling food prices, which has meant people have become more lax about what ends up in their bins. It’s easy to blame the problem on shadowed supermarket boardrooms, but we are all culpable. An average person will dispose of 2.5 main meals every single week. As a result, every single British household lost £470 in 2015. How would you rather your money was spent?
Careless waste is burning more than just a hole in our pockets. Wrap reports that avoidable food waste contributes to over 19 million tonnes in CO2 emissions, the equivalent to retiring a quarter of all British cars. Climate change can be fought with a knife and fork, but it seems that the UK lacks the hunger to take on the challenge.
More money is wasted on food waste than is spent on the entirety of the foreign aid budget. Yet the mainstream media have been on the attack, in an attempt to discredit the law that protects spending on the world’s poorest at 0.7% of GNI. The cost of British food waste is nearly quadruple the total fortune of Donald Trump, yet 60% believe they waste little or no food. Imagine the difference that could be made, if the headlines devoted to contradicting claims questioning the value of our compassion were instead focused on ending the apathy around a food waste crisis that’s only getting worse?
It’s time to shape up and shout out about the cost of food waste. In addition to personal household waste, the problem is even worse: the UK wastes more than 15 million tonnes of food overall. Globally, one third of food that’s produced globally every year is wasted.
Across the EU, over 88 million tonnes of food is wasted. But this month, the European Parliament will vote on plans to halve food waste by 2030, obliging EU member states to comply. Since the vote takes place before Article 50 is triggered, this would mean that it would pass into UK law, too.
It’s vital that people begin to understand the impact of food waste in everyday life. The personal cost is staggering, and its far reaching consequences extend beyond the country to the climate. Food waste has been forgotten. Let’s put it back on the table.