UK household food waste defies reduction efforts

The UK has failed to meet one its key "Courtauld Commitments" to reduce waste, the government's WRAP agency said today (10 January).

Image: Ian Barbour (CC BY 2.0)
Image: Ian Barbour (CC BY 2.0)

WRAP's figures show that household food waste actually rose during the period in question, from 7Mt in 2012 to 7.3Mt in 2015, despite considerable efforts over the last three years to reduce the figure.

"However, a combination of influences have contributed to the target being missed including UK population growth, falling food prices and increased personal earnings," WRAP said. "These have reduced the pressures for people to avoid wasting food."

WRAP says it will now work with Courtauld signatories "to investigate potential high-impact ways of helping consumers make best use of the food they buy".

These could include printing tips on-pack and on-shelf-displays for the most commonly wasted food items; using personalised messaging to help individuals identify beneficial changes in their food habits, and consistent application of best practice in date labelling and storage advice and product portioning on key products.

WRAP director of business programmes Steve Creed said: "Reducing food waste in the home is incredibly challenging, given the complex reasons for it, the scale of food waste in the home and the lack of awareness, but it’s clear we all need to do more. WRAP has a plan to work with governments, signatories and consumers for greater public engagement through Love Food Hate Waste and interventions by signatories to Courtauld 2025."

The period's other targets, to reduce food and packaging waste by 3 per cent in manufacturing and retail, and to improve packaging design and recyclability in the grocery supply chain without increasing the carbon impact, were successfully met.

Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said: "Good progress has been made by industry to tackle food and packaging waste in the supply chain and it goes to show the achievements that can be made through working together with partners across the UK.

"But we all have a role to play and despite a million-tonne fall in domestic food waste since 2007, there is clearly more we need to do. That is why we will continue to work with WRAP to support their new strategy to raise awareness, increase education and change people’s perceptions of food waste."

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