We won’t fix climate change if we don’t stop wasting food

16 October 2020

  • Less than a third of people know that wasting food contributes to climate change
  • Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date – household food waste is wrecking the environment
  • If every person in the UK wasted no food at home for one day, it could have the same impact on greenhouse gases as planting half a million trees

WRAP, the UK’s leading sustainability charity, today launches a bold new brand aimed at driving home the message that wasting food has a huge impact on climate change, and that we can all help reduce our CO2 emissions by being more conscious of not wasting food.

Called Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date, the new brand has been created to communicate the simple message that wasting food is now as socially unacceptable as littering or not wearing a seatbelt.

The brand will partner WRAP’s existing Love Food Hate Waste campaign, but use more direct and harder-hitting messaging to reach those people who may not yet be aware of the connection between wasting food and climate change. It will show that we all have the power to help to reduce the UK’s CO2 emissions, and halve our food waste by 2030. It will put initial focus on 18–34-year-olds through social media to show that, like plastic pollution, wasting food has a huge impact on the environment.

The launch is being supported by a variety of partner organisations including HiSense, Co-op, M&S, and Unilever. Partners will use their own channels to support Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date and highlight the waste of precious resources that go into producing our food – like water, agricultural land, and energy – when food ends up in the bin.

Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP, “The food we waste is damaging our planet, devastating our biodiversity and draining our water supplies. Yet our research shows that not enough people realise how seriously wasting food contributes to climate change. In reality, wasted food produces six times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as global aviation. Many of us blame farmers, producers and supermarkets but the truth is, it is us, households, who waste more food than any other sector combined, and the onus is on us all to see this, and act.

“We want Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date to reach further than we’ve been able to reach before. We want more people to understand the problem, and act. Because when we do, we achieve great things. To date, we’ve prevented 1.7Mt of food being wasted*, which has the same GHG footprint as 2.4m cars – that’s more than all the new cars registered last year. But we need more people to act, and more people to say that Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date.

Small actions, big impact

  • In the UK, 9.5 million tonnes of food are wasted every year; 70% of this comes from our homes. Of that, 4.5 million tonnes could have been eaten.
  • Bread waste in UK homes generates 318,000 tonnes of CO2 annually – the same as 140,000 cars. If we all stopped wasting bread at home for one year, it would have the same impact as planting over five million trees.
  • Bananas are one of the most wasted fruits in UK homes. It takes 3,000 hectares to grow the bananas we waste every year. Every day in the UK, 920,000 bananas are wasted using up 330 billion litres of water to grow annually.

Dynamic videos and infographics from Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date will drive home these messages across Instagram and Twitter. There is also a dedicated website to bring to life the devastating environmental cost of wasting food – and a quiz to help people realise exactly how much food they waste at home.

Making the link

WRAP research shows that while 81% of people in the UK are concerned about climate change, fewer than 30% can see a clear link with wasting food.

This year, WRAP has conducted a series of public surveys to evaluate how lockdown measures have affected our food behaviours at home. The September surveyFood waste and Covid-19 Survey 3: Life in Flux** highlighted that although there are gaps in terms of understanding how wasting food affects climate change, people do have a desire to do the right thing.

WRAP found that earlier in the year the main factors behind people actively trying to waste less food related to the circumstances of lockdown; such as reluctance to go shopping and fear of running out of food. In September, new research shows that people are becoming more concerned about the waste of good food and money, than restrictions. But a quarter of the UK population still falls into the category of ‘high levels of food waste’, and WRAP believes it has never been more crucial to have a compelling, hard-hitting brand to raise awareness, like Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date.

Arun Bhatoye, Senior Marketing Manager at Hisense, says:

“Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date is an exciting campaign that comes at a poignant moment for all of us. Climate change is an issue that requires urgent attention, and it is crucial for both brands and consumers to recognise the impact of everyday food waste on our environment. Helping our customers by driving education around this topic as well as equipping them with innovative tech and features in our appliances to reduce food waste is a priority for Hisense – the responsibility is on all of us.”

Iain Ferguson, Environment Manager at Co-op, says:

“Co-op is committed to preventing food waste, and in addition to distributing surplus food to help tackle food insecurity in our communities, we are passionate about helping our members and customers take those small extra steps that can make a big difference to cutting food waste in the home. We know that to bring about real and lasting change, people need to see the impact of their actions and understand how they can make a difference. That is why, as a long-standing partner of WRAP’s work, we’re working together to support the Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date campaign.”

Hazel Culley, Head of Food Sustainability at M&S, says:

“Our simple commitment is to source all our products with care and ensure nothing goes to waste. We’re making great progress in reducing waste in our stores by ensuring more accurate stock levels and increasing our charity food donations. We’re also continuing to look at how we can help make it easier for our customers to take action in their own homes, from sharing simple storage tips to recipe inspiration. With the launch of WRAP’s new campaign, we can continue to put the issue of food waste at the forefront of our customers’ minds.”

Follow Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date on Instagram and Twitter, and visit the website to find out more and to get started taking action.

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Notes to Editor

  • WRAP is a not for profit organisation founded in 2000 which works with governments, businesses, and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. Our impact spans the entire lifecycle of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy, from production to consumption and beyond.
  • Love Food Hate Waste, launched in 2007, is WRAP’s first citizen-facing food waste prevention brand. With a social media following of over 150,000, Love Food Hate Waste offers practical and accessible advice for wasting less food at home, from leftover recipes to the hugely successful Food Storage A–Z tool. Its audience is engaged and interested in wasting less food, seeking out practical advice to help them do so, whilst Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date seeks to reach those unaware of the impact wasting food waste can have on the planet. The two will exist side-by-side to capture hearts and minds across the UK and inspire different audiences to act.
  • *Food waste in the UK overall has reduced by 1.7 Mt between 2007 and 2018. Specifically household food waste has reduced by 1.4 Mt.
  • **The research conducted in September 2020 was to examine the impact of the UK’s lockdown measures on people’s food behaviours at home, following two previous phases of research in April and June 2020. It also asked people about their attitudes towards and understanding of climate change. This UK representative survey was conducted online from 11 to 16 September 2020 by Icaro Consulting on behalf of WRAP. A total of 4,119 interviews were undertaken with adults aged 18+ with responsibility in their home for grocery shopping and/or food preparation. You can read more about the research in WRAP’s recent blog post by Dr Mark Roberts; the full research report will be available on the WRAP website on Friday 16 October 2020.
  • For further information – to request interviews: [email protected] tel. 01295 819 619 www.wrap.org.uk @WRAP_UK