All about food waste

Food waste is one of Britain’s biggest problems.

We throw away seven million tonnes of food from our homes every year.

The figure for hospitals, supermarkets, schools, restaurants and hotels is another seven million tonnes, which just goes to show the size of our waste food mountain.

The worst thing about all this food waste is that half of the food thrown away is perfectly good food that we could have eaten.

In a world where people are going hungry, it’s terrible that we are throwing away so much food. It’s also a huge waste of money as well.

How much does this cost?

The government says that the average family wastes £470 per year buying food that’s not eaten.

This figure goes up to £600 per year (or £50 per month) for a family with children.

For the whole of the UK, that works out at £12.5 billion in wasted money spent on unwanted food.

What’s the impact on the environment?

It’s huge. Seven million tonnes of wasted food uses a lot of energy to produce and transport to the shops. That’s all wasted energy (and money).

The government reckons the wasted energy and added pollution is about the same as that produced by a quarter of our cars.

What can we do?

The easiest way we can stop food waste is by simply buying less.

Many families buy far too much on their weekly supermarket trips, which means that food often goes ‘off’ before they have a chance to eat it.

If families planned their meals, they’d buy just enough to go round, meaning less ends up in the bin.

Don’t cook too much! A lot of waste food is because we serve up huge portion sizes which we can’t manage. Cook sensible portions, and cut out the waste.

Know the difference between ‘Best before’ and ‘Use by’. Just because you’ve got a day past the ‘Best before’ date doesn’t automatically mean the food is unfit to eat. Some foods are perfectly fine days and weeks after the best before date.

Don’t keep buying foods you don’t eat! Some families might buy a big bunch of bananas every week out of habit, let them go off, and buy another bunch all over again. Stop the madness! Only buy what you’re really going to eat!

If you must throw away food, compost it. Your council might even have a food waste collection.

The good news is that the message on food waste is finally hitting home. We’ve reduced food waste by a fifth over five years, and we can still do even better.