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Food Waste

Get to grips why food waste is a problem and how to reduce it with lots of easy tips, hacks and info.

7 ways to reduce your food waste

7 Easy Ways To Reduce Your Food Waste

Eat & Drink

Food waste is a complex, global issue but there are simple solutions which you can get involved in today at home. Reducing food waste at home will help you eat better and save money.

Being aware of food loss in food supply chains and how those supply chains work will help you support sustainable food brands, farmers and producers who are working hard to reduce waste.

What is food waste?

Simply put food waste is all the food that is not used, eaten or discarded and so ends up in the bin.

Food is wasted in homes, restaurants, hotels, cafes, supermarkets and then at every level of the food supply chain from farms to manufacturers, packers, distributors and so on.


Why is food waste a problem?

Food waste is a huge issue for our modern world. In the developed world, we throw away too much food, which wastes the resources and carbon emissions used to grow and produce that food.

The longer, and more complex the supply chain across the world, the more food is lost at every stage.

Food waste contributes to our global carbon emission problem. It contributes around 8% of greenhouse gas emissions at a time when millions of people are still going hungry and our carbon emissions are still rising.

Households are responsible for more than half of the food waste issue as we all overbuy at the supermarkets and don’t eat everything. And then there’s all the packaging which is also an issue and also wasted from supermarket food that isn’t eaten. It’s a double blow for the planet.

Supermarkets are also responsible for huge amounts of wasted food, rejecting ugly fruit and veg, over-ordering from farmers or refusing to take crops that have been grown.

240,000 tonnes of food is rejected by British supermarkets each year, according to Friends of the Earth.

What is the difference between food waste and surplus food?

Food waste is food that has been discarded, lost in transit, or leftovers on your plate.

Surplus food is different. Surplus food that has yet to be used or eaten so it’s perfectly edible but for some reason unwanted.

Made too much spag bol? That’s surplus food. Too many wonky carrots that a supermarket rejects? That’s surplus food. Surplus food can be passed onto others via veg boxes or community apps, or used to make other products - like condiments, beer, sauces or sandwiches as a way of using up resources properly.

By using up surplus ingredients, you’re less reliant on new ingredients which cuts down on the overall amount needed to be grown and ultimately reduces carbon emissions.

It might not feel like it when you find a way to use an old carrot rather than throw it away but you’re helping the global fight against climate change.

Food waste facts

  • According to the European Commission, around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in the EU.
  • In the EU, an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted, while 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day.
  • The UN estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, which would feed all of the hungry people in the world, four times over.
  • If it were a country, food waste would be the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases [PDF]  in the world.
  • The average UK family wastes £470 a year on food that is wasted - as a country it would be enough to fill 38 million wheelie bins.
  • 20 million whole slices of bread are thrown away in the UK every day (Love Food Hate Waste)
  • According to WRAP, food and drink waste by commercial and industrial businesses amounts to around 2.9 million tonnes, with a value of over £5.2 billion

Scroll down to check out regularly updated features on food waste, surplus food and recipe suggestions.

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We also highlight food waste hacks on our Instagram feed under our 2021 campaign, #365waystosave.

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