If you do a quick Google search for UK food waste you will quickly find out that UK households waste 8.3 Million tonnes of food per year, most of which is perfectly edible.
This is a lot of food, and a great deal of expense. Roughly £480 a year for an average household. For this reason we are glad that campaigns like Love Food : Hate Waste exist, offering practical tips on how all of us can cut our food waste and improve our budgeting.
However, there is a question that isn’t so easily answered. How much food is wasted before it gets to the supermarket shelves or the restaurant table? Well, if you are persistent in checking all the pages that Google brings to your attention you may find the website of Inetec. And they make an interesting claim. Apparently the UK wastes around 17 Million tonnes of food a year, a third of which is produced by large scale food processes. The breakdown of food waste is therefore roughly 8 million tonnes by households, 6 million tonnes during food manufacture and 3 million tonnes by supermarkets and restaurants.
This Is Rubbish has been in contact with Charlotte Henderson at WRAP and established that they are doing work on food waste from field to supermarket shelf:
“We are carrying out research at the moment to understand how much and where product is lost in the retail supply chain. This includes waste at manufacturing sites, in distribution and back of store, covering the grocery supply chain.“
We are looking forward to the refocusing of the debate that this will drive. At present we the British public are getting quite a slating for the roughly 45% of the food waste problem that we are responsible for. It’s about time everyone started playing their part in reducing this environmentally and socially damaging habit.
However, the more observant of you might have noticed that the report being planned by WRAP doesn’t quite close the loop. The whole retail supply chain is being examined from field to supermarket shelf and customers’ habits have already been put under a microscope. But how much food are supermarkets throwing out on a regular, annual basis? Alongside the research being conducted by WRAP we want individual retailers to be regulated by the government, ensuring that annual food waste reports are published by independent auditors. We don’t simply want end facts and figures, but the disclosure of the research methodology alongside the final quantities of food waste.
In the dictionary of waste L is for Lacuna, and currently retail food waste is a pretty big one. This Is Rubbish are calling for supermarkets to submit anual foodwaste accounts including their direct and supply chain food waste. We want to see these as standardised and independently verified accounts operating in a similar manner to the carbon disclosure project.