Total food waste levels fell by 480,000 tonnes between 2015 and 2018 – a 7% reduction per person – according to a report published today (24 January) by sustainability charity WRAP.
The data has been released as part of an update on the fourth phase of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary grocery sector sustainability scheme.
Run by WRAP, the Courtauld Commitment 2025 brings together organisations across the food system to try and make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable.
Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, 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.
“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 report says households and businesses had made greater progress tackling food waste from 2015 to 2018 than during the preceding five years.
According to the charity, action by Courtauld 2025 signatories helped reduce the amount of food waste in the supply chain by 4% per capita between 2015 and 2018, with the supply chain contributing around 30% to the UK total, at 2.9 million tonnes.
Total UK food waste measures 9.5 million tonnes, down from 10 million tonnes in 2015 and 1.7 million tonnes a year lower than in 2007, the charity’s figures suggest.
Despite this, the charity’s research found less than half the population – 39% – connect wasting food at home with the impact it has on the environment.
The report suggests a total of 1.4 million tonnes of food has been saved from going to waste each year when compared with 2007 levels.
However, it also says UK households still waste 4.5 million tonnes of food every year, worth £14 billion (£700 for an average family with children).
WRAP says a reduction of 4% in the supply chain shows good overall progress from businesses, but many more need to step up action on food waste if globally it is to be halved by 2030.
Government Food Waste Champion Ben Elliot said: “These new statistics are extremely encouraging and demonstrate a big step in the right direction.
“However, we must still keep marching – more needs to be done, across every business and every household, if we are to hit the milestone targets set out in the Courtauld Commitment 2025 report.”
Courtauld 2025 is a ten-year commitment to identify priorities, develop solutions and implement changes to cut the carbon, water and waste associated with food and drink by at least one-fifth in 10 years.
The first Courtauld Commitment was launched in 2005 at a ministerial event at the Courtauld Gallery in London.
Funded by government and run by WRAP, the voluntary Courtauld Commitments aim to improve resource efficiency and reduce the carbon and wider environmental impact of the UK grocery sector.
The scheme has set a 20% food waste reduction target by 2025 (see letsrecycle.com story https://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/courtauld-4-sets-20-food-waste-reduction-target/), which WRAP says it is on track to meet.
WRAP attributed the decrease in household food waste to a range of factors including heightened public awareness through WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, clearer labelling on food packaging, and more local authorities offering residents separate food waste collections.
Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “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.”
Food waste will be on the agenda at the National Food Waste Conference, to be held on 29 January. More information can be found here.