This report provides extensive details about household food and drink waste including detailed reasons about why it is thrown away, the size of individual instances of waste and the proportion of food left in packaging.
For the most up-to-date information on household food and drink waste in the United Kingdom, including estimates on quantity and types of waste, reasons for discarding, financial costs, and greenhouse gas emissions, please refer to the Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom 2021/22.
Note that the product focus report contains additional analysis currently not published using 2021/22 data, such as data on Individual instances of waste and the proportion of food left in packaging – for such analyses, please continue to use the data in this report.
- 2 million tonnes of household food is discarded because it is not ‘used in time’, half of which is thrown away whole or in unopened packaging, costing consumers around £2.4bn a year
- In a third of cases, passing a date label triggered disposal, while foods judged by consumers to have ‘gone off’ before they could be eaten (mouldy, stale etc.) were responsible for most of the remaining 1.3 million tonnes
In November 2013, WRAP published Household Food and Drink Waste in the UK 2012, which quantified the amounts, types and reasons for food being wasted from UK households.
As part of that research, two datasets were collected that included details of what was wasted from individual households in addition to information from questionnaires relating to characteristics of those households. One dataset originated from diary based research and the second from compositional analysis of household waste (conducted with informed consent).
Although a large amount of information was published in that previous report, there were additional analyses that could be performed on these datasets to yield information useful to those working to reduce household food waste.
This report presents details of the types and state of food thrown away: for instance, it includes whether items were packed, whether this packaging was opened and, where it was thrown away in its packaging, how much was left in the pack. The distribution of size of instances of waste is also presented. There is also detailed information on why food is thrown away and which meals are associated with the most waste. These insights will help WRAP and its partners develop more effective ways to help people waste less food. In particular, they highlight how sharing best practice between food categories could lead to significant waste reductions. Three recommendations are:
- Provide a range of competitively-priced pack sizes with clear on-pack guidance on storage and freezing;
- Continue to communicate what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ mean, whilst ensuring they are correctly applied and set to be as long as possible;; and
- Accelerate the roll out, and increase public awareness, of the ‘freeze before date mark’ label (replacing ‘freeze on day of purchase’).
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