Significant drop in food waste

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The UK reduced food waste by 480k tonnes between 2015 and 2018
The UK reduced food waste by 480k tonnes between 2015 and 2018

Related tags Supply chain

Food waste in the UK fell by 480,000t between 2015 and 2018, according to a new report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The new data from WRAP’s latest Courtauld Commitment 2025 milestone report​ – which sets out progress in food waste reduction since 2007 – found that food waste dropped by 7% per person during the reported period.

It also revealed that households and businesses tackled the issue of food waste at an accelerated rate, with a greater rate of progress from 2015 to 2018 than over the preceding five years.

WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said: “This great news announced today means we are starting to wake up to the reality of food waste, but we are too often turning a blind eye to what is happening in our homes.

‘Tackle the biggest challenges this century’

“We are all thinking about what we can do for the environment and this is one of the most simple and powerful ways we can play our part. By wasting less food, we are helping to tackle the biggest challenges this century – feeding the world whilst protecting our planet.”

The not-for-profit organisation, which is focused on sustainability, attributed the significant drop in household food waste to several factors. It cited heightened public awareness through its Love Food Hate Waste​ campaign, clearer labelling on food packaging and more local authorities offering residents separate food waste collections.

While WRAP was pleased with the progress made, it claimed that more could be done to further reduce food waste.

While a 4% reduction of waste in the supply chain showed good overall progress from businesses, the organisation called for more businesses to step up their action on food waste to help halve it by 2030.

Love food, hate waste

WRAP hoped to build on the UK’s position as a global leader in tackling food waste and work closely with Government, businesses and the public to accelerate the reduction of wasted food. To support this stance, it planned to launch a campaign to ignite a national food conversation and complement the work of Love Food Hate Waste​.

Commenting of the WRAP report, environment secretary Theresa Villiers added: “Each year, tonnes of good-quality, nutritious food needlessly goes to waste, harming our environment and climate. As a world-leader in the fight against food waste, it is good news that we are making a real difference.

“But while this is encouraging, there is more to be done – and I urge all households, individuals and businesses to consider how they can reduce their own food waste footprint to create a better world for generations to come.”

Own-label waste

Despite the significant reduction in food waste reported by WRAP, there have been calls for more food to be redistributed to help increase the amount of food saved. Food redistributor Approved Food pointed the finger at own-label foods as a major culprit of waste.

Responding to the report, managing director Andy Needham said: “It’s scandalous. The manufacturing sector still wastes around 1.5m tonnes of food every year and we see the hidden issues behind this, day in and day out, for example, food that is past its best before date being binned when it is still perfectly good to eat.”

“WRAP wants to engage with 500 new food manufacturing businesses to help address this; however, those producing own-brand goods for supermarkets will not have the freedom to choose to whom the food is donated or sold to.

“This is restrictive, limits competition, disadvantages and disincentivises suppliers and opens retailers to risk, but most of all, results in good, edible food being binned. We want these barriers to be removed so that food that would be otherwise wasted can be ‘rescued’ for redistribution.”

Related topics Supply Chain Environment

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