More than £12 Billion in Food Waste Goes in the Garbage Every Year in U.K.


Photo credit: sporkist via Flickr/Creative Commons

5.3 million tonnes of food and drink that could have been consumed goes in the trash every year in the U.K., according to a new report. Household Food ad Waste in the UK [pdf] details the "food waste mountain" effectively growing in landfills from the wasted food and drink.

That's an awfully big number. To scale it back to something a little easier to put into context, that waste adds up to a cool £480 per household per year, bumping up to £680 per year for families. But wait, there's more: Think about all the greenhouse gas emissions numbers associated with this.

Photo credit: Smabs Sputzer via Flickr/Creative Commons
The carbon footprint of food waste in the UK
Those numbers -- £12 billion (about $20 billion US), 5.3m tonnes (5.8 million tons) and £680 (nearly $1150 US) per family -- all add up to about 20 million tonnes (22 million tons) of carbon dioxide emissions. That's about 2.4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions associated with all consumption, or about the same carbon emissions of two million UK citizens each year.

For the first time, liquid waste is included in the statistics from Wrap, the group that advises the government on reducing waste and packaging, which boosted the amount of consumable, avoidable waste from 4.1 million tonnes to 5.3 million tonnes. Though that number is trending up, the two main reasons for much of the waste are unchanged: Cooking and preparing too much (about 2.2 million tonnes), and keeping food -- unopened and nibbled on -- so long that it goes bad before being eaten (about 2.9 million tonnes).

Even so, since launching in November 2007, the efforts of Wrap and the Love Food Hate Waste campaign have resulted in a reduction of 162,000 tonnes of food waste, equaling a savings of £400 million per year and preventing 725,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Wrap's goal is to reduce food waste with a one-way ticket to the landfill by 250,000 tonnes by March 2011, saving 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Suggestions for improvements
With an average somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of all garbage consisting of food waste, composting can go a long, long way to diverting volume from landfills, the report suggests. Currently, household food waste collections are operated by 31 percent of UK Local Authorities, suggesting that there are more than a few more carrot peels and apple cores that still find their way to the garbage.

For more numbers and data on UK food waste, read the full report [pdf] via the Guardian
More on food waste
Recycling Food Waste: Video
Food Waste Revealed: From Farm to Store to Kitchen (Photos)
50 Ways to Never Waste Food Again
UK Grocery Chain Sainsbury's to Start Turning Wasted Food Into Electricity

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Composting | United Kingdom | Waste

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