Action 15: Reduce food waste.
Food waste is a drain on finite resources. It unnecessarily uses water and other agricultural inputs. It creates unnecessary excess amounts of greenhouse gases – about 25 million tonnes a year just from the UK.
7.2% of all food harvested in the UK goes to waste or exists as a food surplus that is fed to animals, redistributed via food charities or is repurposed as bio-based materials. (WRAP 2019). Horticulture – the growing of fruit and vegetables – is the largest contributor. To ensure supermarkets are always fully stocked, farmers grow more than may be needed. Consumer demand is fickle: changes in the weather, recipes made popular by celebrity chefs etc can lead to sharp swings in demand for specific fruits and vegetables. In addition a proportion of the fruit and vegetables will be rejected on grounds of size and appearance.
2.9% of the UK’s food waste takes place in the retail sector. Most of this waste is of products that have reached their best before or sell by date. Increasingly the latter food stuffs are redirected to food banks and other local food charities. Supermarkets often stock more than they need to ensure that what the consumer wants is always available on the shelf.
70% of all food waste in the UK comes from what is thrown away by us, the householders. We most frequently throw away potatoes, bread, milk, tomatoes, bananas and slices of ham.