Food waste campaign saves West London Boroughs over £1million

12th September 2013

Local authorities can save millions by implementing a tailored Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) campaign according to WRAP’s evaluation of recent LFHW activity in West London.

In the UK we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink a year, 4.4 million tonnes that could have been eaten. In London alone, an estimated 890,000 tonnes of food is thrown away each year[1], of which 540,000 tonnes could be avoided.  It costs London Boroughs over £50 million per year to dispose of the food waste[2] collected from households.

The six month LFHW campaign, which was part of a larger, London wide LFHW campaign run by Recycle for London, helped West Londoners cut their avoidable food waste by 14%[3]. The reductions in food waste could save West London boroughs up to £1.3 million each year through avoided disposal costs[4] and deliver up to £8 savings for every £1 spent on implementing the campaign.

If the 14% reduction is scaled up to the whole of London[5], for a year it would equate to 29,400 tonnes of avoidable food waste. This would see a £79 million cost saving to residents[6]. If the reductions in total food waste were scaled up to the whole of London this would equate to around 68,000 tonnes, resulting in cost savings to LAs from avoided disposal costs of up to £7.3 million[7].

Food waste reduction is likely to be influenced by a number of factors including the economic situation; however, this campaign, delivered locally by West London Waste Authority in partnership with six local boroughs, provided an opportunity to understand the impact of LFHW on food waste reduction by measuring consumer behaviours and the levels of food waste either side of the specific campaign.

Dr Richard Swannell, Director at WRAP, said: “The Local Government Association has identified waste disposal as one of the most costly areas for local authorities. Our work   highlights one way these can be reduced cost effectively – a short term investment can deliver short term and potentially long term gain, both financially and environmentally.”

WRAP has also helped make it easier for local authorities to deliver cost effective help to residents through its food waste prevention and collections guidance, which was issued last month[8].

“And it’s not just local authorities who can help consumers reduce their food waste and reap the benefits,” added Richard. “Retailers and brands have a role to play, particularly through the Courtauld Commitment and by utilising WRAP’s technical guidance, to help consumers make the best use of the food they buy.”

By working together, Recycle for London (a partnership between WRAP and The Mayor of London) delivered a pan-London LFHW campaign between October 2012 and March 2013. It supported local borough activity and was funded by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB).

Matthew Pencharz, Senior Adviser – Environment and Energy, Greater London Authority, said: “Reducing the amount of waste Londoners produce in the first place achieves the greatest cost saving and environmental benefits. The LFHW activity in West London demonstrates considerable savings to households and local authorities can be made by taking really simple steps like making better informed purchasing habits and turning left over food into tasty new meals.”

WRAP’s research in 2007 brought the food waste issue to the forefront, when it released the UK’s first detailed food waste figures[9]. It continues to be a priority and later this year new research and updated household food waste figures for the whole UK will be published.

For more information about the campaign and its impacts, please see the detailed case study.

[1] This covers all disposal routes, including collected by local authorities, home composted and via the sewer

[2] This is for food waste collected by London Boroughs, excluding food and drink waste going down the sewer and home composted. It includes avoidable, possibly avoidable and unavoidable food waste

[3] Reductions were measured in the collected household food waste only

[4] Based on the current disposal charge of £106.50 a tonne.

[5] 3.33 million households (DCLG), the scaling up of the savings is indicative only; impact is likely to vary by population characteristics and the sample for this research was designed to represent West London not the population of London as a whole.

[6] This is based on the retail price of food and drink of £2,700 per tonne (or £2.70 per kilogramme).

[7] Based on £106.50 per tonne for West London, disposal costs may vary across London

[9] The Food We Waste report was published in May 2008, but is based on fieldwork in 2007

Details of the campaign: The reduction in household food waste was achieved as part of the campaign, with the message ‘You could save up to £50 per month by throwing away less food’[1] at its heart. It was delivered across West London via a comprehensive range of communications and engagement activities.

This campaign in West London provided an opportunity to understand the impact of LFHW campaigns in reducing food waste.

The LFHW approach took simple and effective messages and tips (on how to reduce food waste and save money) to reach the people of West London numerous times throughout their daily lives. 

As a result people were able to see food waste prevention in action, build confidence in what they are doing and really understand the benefits, such as saving money and helping the environment. This led to significant changes in behaviour - those strongly influenced by the campaign reduced their own avoidable food waste by a staggering 43%.

LFHW is the consumer food waste campaign from WRAP, the UK’s leading body on food waste. It works in partnership with retailers, brands and local authorities to help consumers reduce food waste. WRAP also undertakes technical activity with the food industry, to change the retail environment (e.g. change products, packaging, labelling and the way food is sold) to help consumers waste less.

The total cost of the campaign was £168,472 or 28p per household in West London. This includes all the media activity and volunteer work (with funding from Recycle for London and the West London Waste Authority).

The six boroughs involved in the campaign are: Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Richmond and Brent.

Further impacts of the campaign:

  • The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the reduction of avoidable food and drink waste is equivalent to 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide prevented.

About WRAP

WRAP’s vision is a world without waste, where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. . Follow us on Twitter at @Wrap_UK

About Love Food Hate Waste

Love Food Hate Waste aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help us take action. It shows that by doing some easy practical everyday things in the home we can all waste less food, which will ultimately benefit our purses and the environment too. Love Food Hate Waste is brought to you by WRAP. . Follow us on Twitter at @LFHW_UK

[1] based on national research that shows saving money is the main motivator in encouraging consumers to reduce food waste