Food waste refers to the amount of food that is thrown away. Consumers discard food because they have purchased more than they could eat, while retailers would sometimes reject the food because it doesn’t fit certain aesthetic standards. Food waste should not be confused with food loss, which describes unintentional waste, for reasons such as transportation problems or poor equipment.
Scary facts about food waste in the UK
1. The total amount of food wasted in the UK alone is roughly 15 million tonnes each year.
2. Up to 50% of all food wasted in the UK comes from households. This amounts to 7 million tonnes of drink and food, 50% of which could have been consumed.
3. The cost of wasted food per household is around £470. For a large family with children, it can reach £700, or an average of £60 a month.
4. The environmental impact of wasting food is equivalent to removing 1 of 4 cars off the roads. This holds a huge positive impact for the environment.
5. 4% of UK’s water footprint is associated with food and drink waste.
6. Food is wasted for two main reasons - more than needed is prepared or it is not used in time.
7. Fresh vegetables, fruits and bakery make for the type of food that is most commonly wasted.
Food waste is a negative characteristic of a country as it shows a precious resource not being utilised. Throwing away food may not seem like a big deal, but when the picture is revealed in full, it is somewhat unpleasant - a quarter of every melon practically ends up uneaten and thrown away. What is even worse is that almost a quarter of all bread is also thrown away. That figure jumps up to a third of all lettuce, which goes to show just how severe a problem this is.
Reducing food waste is imperative not only because it is a bad thing, but also from an economical point of view. The typical family in the UK currently throws away what amounts to a week’s worth of groceries, which is a lot. That is hundreds of pounds down the drain every month.
Reducing food waste is also needed because it has a positive impact on the environment. Less waste means less greenhouse gas, which in turn mitigates climate change. Better distribution and food management contribute a great deal to that goal. Major corporations have already taken upon the quest of reducing food waste, but households can contribute just as well.