Household food waste had tumbled by 13% or 1.1Mt a year to 7.2Mt from 8.3Mt in 2006/07, according to the government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).
Speaking at the organisation’s annual conference, chief executive Dr Liz Goodwin said her organisation had met all its major targets. It had helped to keep 11Mt of waste out of landfill, avoided 5.5Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and, in the process, generated £2bn of benefits to the UK economy, including £1.8bn of cost savings.
Andrew Kuyk, the Food and drink Federation (FDF) director of sustainability and competitiveness, said: “Even though most food waste is generated by households rather than manufacturers, our members recognise the need to lead by example in their own operations.
“Our most recent survey of waste arisings, published in 2010, showed that the industry is now sending less than 9% of its food waste to landfill and is on track to meet its target of zero food and packaging waste to landfill by 2015.”
Sending food waste to landfill wastes the resources used in its production and adds to total greenhouse gas emissions through decomposition, he said. This is particularly true when food is wasted at the household end of the chain.
“The FDF and its members are focused on helping consumers reduce food waste including work with WRAP as part of Courtauld Commitment 2 and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign," said Kuyk.
But Goodwin highlighted the work ahead: “There was a big job still to be done given the food we waste in homes alone is worth £12bn a year. Food wasted throughout the supply chain was ‘significant’ at a time when food security was a major global issue,” she said.
Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) claimed the fall in food waste from homes revealed retailers’ success in changing customers’ behaviour.
BRC's head of environment Bob Gordon said: “This reduction is all the more important because food waste has such a large environmental impact and costs people hard-earned money. The scale of the reduction shows retailers are right to support customers in tackling the biggest source of food waste – the home. Previous WRAP figures showed eight times more food waste coming from homes than from stores.”
Gordon added: “It’s also good to see local authorities taking more responsibility. Rising numbers of separate collections are making more households aware of their food waste and the need to tackle it.”
To read the household food waste report, click here .