Britons are 'throwing away £13bn of food each year'

Consumers are throwing away £13 billion of edible food from homes a year, figures suggest. Credit: PA
  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

Consumers are throwing away £13 billion of edible food from homes each year, new estimates suggest.

In 2015 the average household threw away £470 worth of food when it could have been eaten, the waste and recycling expert body Wrap have found.

The organisation says such "avoidable" food waste generated 19 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its lifetime and preventing that pollution would be equivalent to taking one in four cars off UK roads.

The latest figures show efforts to tackle food waste from homes have "stalled" in the past few years, with 7.3 million tonnes thrown away in 2015, compared to seven million tonnes in 2012.

Of the food thrown away, 4.4 million tonnes was "avoidable" waste that was edible at some point before it was put in the bin or food waste caddy, such as bread that goes mouldy, compared to 4.2 million tonnes in 2012.

This is the first time food waste levels have increased since Wrap conducted their initial survey in 2007, showing 8.3 millions tonnes of edible products were thrown away.

The new estimates were compiled by waste and recycling expert body Wrap. Credit: PA

Wrap, whose work is part-funded by the Government, claims falls in food prices and rising incomes since 2014 have reduced the incentive for people to cut their waste.

Between 2007 and 2012, the total amount of household food waste fell 15%, and avoidable food waste dropped by 21%, thanks to a combination of rising food prices, changes to food products and labelling to simplify use by date advice, and campaigning to raise awareness.

But recent figures show the food industry has failed to meet a commitment to cut household food waste by 5% between 2012 and 2015.

Wrap said it is uniting retailers, manufacturers and local authorities through its food sustainability initiative, the Courtauld Commitment 2025, which aims to reduce food waste across the UK food system by 20% on a per person basis by 2025.

Practical measures will be piloted and assessed, such as informing people - for example on shelf displays - when they are buying the most commonly wasted foods about the key actions they could take to prevent waste.

Food waste warnings are to be introduced in some supermarkets. Credit: PA

Environment Minister Therese Coffey has said strong progress had been made by the industry on tackling food waste, but that "we all have a role to play."

"Despite a million-tonne fall in domestic food waste since 2007, there is clearly more we need to do.

"That is why we will continue to work with Wrap to support their new strategy to raise awareness, increase education and change people's perceptions of food waste."