Why we need to take action on food waste
Producing food requires significant resources including land, energy and water. Globally, 25–30% of total food produced is lost or wasted, and food waste is estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to contribute 8-10% of total man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter after China and the USA.
- Great progress has been made in the UK, but food waste from all sectors is still around 10.7 million tonnes (Mt). For households and businesses, 70% was intended to be consumed by people (30% being the ‘inedible' parts).
- This had a value of over £22 billion a year. The GHG emissions from households alone total 18 million tonnes.
- The food that could have been eaten (6.4 Mt) would make the equivalent of over 15 billion meals – enough to feed the entire UK population 3 meals a day for 11 weeks.
In addition to food ending up as waste, around 2.8 million tonnes of food surplus from farms, manufacturing, retail and hospitality and food service is either being redistributed via charitable and commercial routes (ca. 93,000 tonnes in 2021) or being diverted to produce animal feed (around 2.7 million tonnes in 2015). Both are classed as waste prevention according to the food material hierarchy.
The UN's Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 is to halve food waste by 2030. To achieve this in the UK, further reductions in food waste are needed, equivalent to 32% of the food waste in the baseline year of 2007.
What can my organisation do?
Using WRAP's tools and guidance, organisations can work out what types of waste to measure and how to measure it. By working with WRAP your organisation can improve processes, find new techniques and implement best practice in your supply chain.
The Courtauld Commitment 2030
Courtauld 2030's food waste target is to deliver against UN SDG 12.3: a 50% per capita reduction in food waste by 2030 vs the UK 2007 baseline (covering manufacture, retail, hospitality and food service, and household).
Food Waste Reduction Roadmap
The UK's largest retailers, food producers and manufacturers, and hospitality and food service companies have committed to 'Target, Measure, Act' on food waste.
Guardians of Grub
Our food waste reduction campaign to tackle the £3 billion of food thrown away in hospitality and food service outlets.
Surplus food redistribution
WRAP works with food retailers, manufacturers, hospitality and food service businesses and redistribution organisations, together with industry bodies to remove barriers to surplus food redistribution.
Farmers and growers
WRAP's research has highlighted the significant financial, environmental and efficiency benefits of tackling food waste in primary production, and we work directly with farmers and growers to address this.
We use our expertise in managing successful voluntary agreements to help governments worldwide achieve their sustainability goals in food and drink.
Support for citizens
By cutting food waste, the average UK four-person household could save some of the £1000 of food thrown away each year and positively contribute to the UK's waste reduction targets. In 2021/22, WRAP research showed we threw away 4.7 Mt of good food from our households, equivalent to 12% of the food we purchase.
Love Food Hate Waste
Currently over 4.5 Mt of food that could have been eaten are wasted from UK households. We aim to cut this by 50% by 2030 ( against a 2015 baseline ) by raising awareness and inspiring citizens towards positive behaviour change.
Food date labelling
Key information on how to apply food date labels, storage and freezing advice to ensure food is safe to eat, reduce consumer food waste and remove barriers to redistribution.
1 December 2022
5 July 2022