UK households ‘throwing away’ £60 a month on food disposal
In a time where consumer cash flows are at supremely low level, and the need to save money is of paramount importance, you would think that people in the UK would be doing all that they can to ensure they have as much disposable income available to them as possible.
However a report initiated by the governmental body the Waste and Resources Action Programme, has indicated that the average household is disposing of almost a whole meal each and every day, representing a £60 loss for the entire month.
This means that the average Britain parts with around 24 full meals each month through food disposal, taking the nation’s total wastage to a monumental 4.2 million tonnes a year.
Even more shockingly, the research outlined that over 20% of food ends up being disposed of before being used and of this total a sizeable 60% could have been utilised without any issues.
However, the study did indicate one positive trend, with the total amount of food and drink shown to have declined markedly since 2007.
According to the data, food wastage had declined by over 20% in the past 6 years, meaning that British consumers had collectively saved nearly £13 billion each year through food saving.
Nevertheless, the continued high levels of food wastage display an alarming problem in consumer attitudes towards savings, on a day when a government poll indicated that attitudes towards saving money on energy had remained unchanged in the past year.
The Chief Executive of WRAP, Dr Liz Goodwin, has urged food manufacturers, consumers and the government to act collectively to address and eradicate the current food wastage problem. She argued that positive action could reduce food wastage by a sizeable 1.7 million tonnes a year, and this could save consumers across the UK almost £45 billion a year on their food.
“Consumers are seriously worried about the cost of food and how it has increased over recent years. Yet as Wrap’s research shows, we are still wasting millions of tonnes and billions of pounds,” she said.
The primary reason given to account for the huge levels of wastage has been overspending by consumers on their weekly shopping, and mis leading labelling on food products, which has resulted in excess food being disposed of.
This follows action by supermarket giant Tesco, who agreed last month to decrease its quantity of multi-buy items and promotional offers. This was due to recent statistics that indicated that over a third of its bagged salad was being disposed of before use and two-fifths of its apples were also being wasted.
Andrew Opie, British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability, identified: “There’s plenty to be pleased about in these figures. Avoidable household food waste has been reduced by 21% since 2007 and the progress is all the more impressive if one accounts for the growth of 1 million new households within that time. Cutting food waste in the home needs to be one of the UK’s biggest environmental priorities.”
He added that recent activity from retailers has greatly impacted the levels of wastage across the country and has called for similar actions to be taken in the future to continue the current trend.
Mr Opie pointed to the multitude or ranges in portion sizes, extended shelf life of products, and new storage tactics as primary reasons behind the decrease in food wastage since 2007. He has called for similar changes to be applied to all retailers in upcoming years to continue food wastage decline in the UK.
However, the changes have not significantly impacted meat and pasta wastage, with statistics indicating that a sizeable 7% of meat is disposed of whilst 18% of rice, pasta and desserts are thrown away without being used.
It can be argued that further promotion about food wastage should occur in the future to ensure that consumers maximise their savings with food purchases. In a time of financial insecurity, and high levels of debt, this seems like the most advisable course of action from here.