Monday, January 14, 2008

The cost of wasted food

I just read an interesting news release from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme, an organisation in the UK), Food Waste Set to Soar over Festive Season.

I find the figures rather hard to believe. It works out at 8.5 pounds per person. The article raises a lot of questions, such as how do they arrive at the statistics, how many days does the Festive Season include, and do the figures include waste from food retailers? Elsewhere on their website they look at annual waste and say:

In total food waste in the UK is around 18 - 20 million tonnes, with household food waste making the single largest contribution (6.7 million tonnes).

Retailers are believed to generate about 1.6 million tonnes of food waste, food manufacturers about 3.5 million tonnes, with food service and restaurants producing about another 3 million tonnes. The remainder comes from the agricultural and horticultural sector, and commercial food waste (e.g. from hospitals, schools, etc).

However accurate the figures are, it does make good points about the environmental impact of producing, storing and getting the food to our homes. They calculate it is equivalent to taking 1 in 5 cars off the road in the UK. Food is wasted because we either cook or prepare too much, and we let food go off. Love Food Hate Waste is their campaign to reduce waste.

WRAP have a number of other initiatives, including the Courtauld Commitment which aims to reduce waste from retail packaging, including looking at ways to extend shelf life of food products.

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