The UK's Food Waste Report
We can all be guilty of dishing up a bit too much food and leaving it on our plates from time to time. Similarly, we might overbuy when we get excited that our favourite fresh food is on offer but perhaps then not get round to eating it before it begins going bad.
While throwing away the odd squishy tomato or the leftovers from our plate might seem minor, food waste is a huge global issue that needs to be tackled. But the problem begins at home with UK households being responsible for 60% of food waste and business and hospitality responsible for the remaining 40%.
Reducing food waste to zero isn’t a change that happen overnight but there are some small changes you can make in the home that the planet – and your pocket, will surely thank you for.
Food Waste In Numbers
Data says that 9.15 million tonnes of food waste is thrown away and not recycled in the UK every year.But while food wastage is huge, so is food poverty with a reported 8.4 million Brits in food poverty– that’s nearly equivalent to the population of London (8.9 million).
One solution is to reduce the amount of food you purchase by ensuring you use all of what you refrigerate. A high-quality fridge freezer with TwinTech® technology, will keep food fresher for longer as will planning your meals for the week and shopping with a list so you don’t pick up what your stomach fancies. Over a year, reducing your food waste by purchasing less and using all of what you buy, could save you £728– that’s equivalent to the cost of a 50-inch television.
Another way to reduce food waste, is to recycle any leftovers or food that has gone off via the council. Food recycling caddies are becoming far more popular with a total of 31 of the most populous cities in the UK currently offering this. However, this amounts to just 59% of councils offering food recycling with the remaining 41% not yet offering this service.
MOST WASTED FOODS
Of the 9.5 million tonnes of food wasted per year, 70% is still fit for human consumption. Unsurprisingly, the most wasted foods are fresh foods as they’re not as commonly frozen which drastically reduces shelf-life.
A quarter (25%) of food waste is from vegetables and a further 22% is of fruits. Similarly, 17% is categorised as leafy greens and 23% from oven baked goods such as cakes, bread, and leftovers.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE
With the UK tightening their pockets across the board, it’s no wonder that 4 in 10 are taking action to reduce household food bill costs.
The less you buy, the less you’re likely to waste. The most common method to reduce food waste is to be more mindful of what is purchased. While shoppers might pick up the odd impromptu item, taking a shopping list (70%) and planning meals (64%) are among the most common methods people are taking to reduce food bills– and subsequently waste.
For 62% of Brits, freezing fresh food is helping them reduce food waste. Freezing on the day of purchase can increase shelf-life considerably and you might be surprised to know that mushrooms, avocados, spinach, and many other fresh foods can be frozen without sacrificing quality.
43% are now cooking smaller portions during mealtimes to reduce the food waste on plates. However, if you are to cook too much, it’s likely you can still freeze your leftovers if you reheat them well within good time. Exact guidelines will vary per food but it’s worth checking food safety guidelines first.
The Regions Recycling Food Waste
Some local councils offer food waste caddies for any leftovers. These are then collected and often composted to reduce the environmental impact of food waste.
We looked at some of the UK’s most populous cities and found that as many as 59% currently offer food waste recycling caddies to their residents. These include councils such as Coventry City Council. Bristol City Council, Milton Keynes, and most boroughs in London.
Some of these councils also revealed how many tonnes of food waste they recycle through the service. Kent came up-top with a total of 36,000 tonnes recycled. Likewise, Belfast City Council recycled 30,252 tonnes, Cardiff 29,403 tonnes and Cambridge 10,565 tonnes.
However, for 47% of the cities we looked at, food waste recycling caddies aren’t offered by the local council. This means nearly half of the UK’s recyclable food waste isn’t being recycled by local authorities.
Barriers To Reducing Food Waste
For 15%, it’s a struggle to cook or consume food before it expires. Likewise, 4 in 10 admitted to not adapting recipes based on what food they have available in the fridge. This could mean extra trips to the shop and spending extra money on food instead of doing a suitable swap e.g., swapping onions for leeks.
Cooking fatigue also means that 16% lack creativity when it comes to cooking and 21% get bored of having the same meals. Both can mean that looking in the fridge and cooking from what is in your personal stock may soon turns into a quick trip to the supermarket to buy new ingredients altogether.
For others (46%), it’s a lack of information on how to store items correctly that means they waste more food than needed. Infact, 44% felt they needed more support on how to be more resourceful with food and 37% aren’t sure where to turn to find this information.
Can You Freeze? The Most Searched Queries
One of the key solutions to reduce food waste is to freeze more fresh food, and it is likely that you can freeze more than you think. Google searches show there is a sharp increase of people searching for “Can you freeze” queries, with an average increase of 51% from 2021-22. Freezing more fresh
foods not only means you get to enjoy the food for longer, but it will also save you money over time, all while doing your bit to help the planet.
Dairy tops the list, with searches for ‘Can you freeze cheese’ and ‘Can you freeze milk’ coming first and second respectively. Collectively these queries hit one million annual searches. Eggs also appears near the top coming fourth with 187,100 searches per year.
Fruit and vegetables also dominate the most searched for ‘Can you freeze queries’ with mushrooms, potatoes, bananas, courgettes, and avocados all making the top ten.
Food waste is a complex issue and one that will never change overnight. However, as we saw the UK households are responsible for a large proportion of the UKs food waste and so changes begin in the home. Being more resourceful with food, as well as buying just what you need will also save you money in the long run and so it’s worth looking at your own food habits where possible. Preventing food waste can also come from investing in a high-quality fridge freezer to keep your food fresher for longer. With the TwinTech® cooling system, fridge and freezer compartments work separately from one another to maintain optimum temperatures that help keep foods fresh, or frozen.