U.K. hasn't "cracked the problem" of food and drink waste

U.K. hasn't "cracked the problem" of food and drink waste

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Nov. 11, 2013

An updated study on household food and drink waste in the U.K. has found that while residents appear to be thinking twice before throwing leftovers in the trash, significant amounts of food, drink and resources are still being squandered.

Released late last week by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), "Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom 2012" argues that "despite terrific efforts across the board, we have not cracked the problem."

According to the new report, food and drink waste has gone down an estimated 15 percent since 2007. Upwards of 9.2 million tons of food and drink were wasted in the U.K. in 2007, compared with 7.7 million tons in 2012. In addition, the executive summary of the report states that "the amount of food and drink thrown away that could have been eaten fell by 21 percent between 2007 and 2012.”

Still, 4.6 million tons of the U.K.'s wasted food and drink, according to WRAP, could have been avoided. WRAP defines "avoidable" waste as "food and drink thrown away because it is no longer wanted or has been allowed to go past its best." An additional 1.3 million tons, the study found, was "possibly avoidable" and consisted of food and drink that "some people eat and others do not," such as potato skins and bread crusts. All told, 5.9 of the 7.7 million tons of food and drink wasted during 2012 were deemed avoidable or possibly avoidable, a point WRAP believes must change in the near future.

The U.K. wasted 12.5 billion pounds ($20 billion) of food and drink in 2012.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and milk were the most wasted products, with an estimated 24 million slices of bread thrown out in 2012.

While commending the efforts of households across the U.K. to improve upon old habits, WRAP set a goal of reducing waste by another 1.9 million tons by 2025. To help, WRAP will author an in-depth analysis of the recent data, focusing on what foods are being wasted the most and how packaging and public campaigns can encourage residents to salvage more and waste less.

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