Food Waste Over Festive Season Increases Greenhouse Gasses

Food wasted in the UK increases by a massive 80% during the Christmas period, according to statistics revealed today by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign led by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

This represents a staggering 230,000 tonnes of festive food worth approximately £275million that gets thrown away across the country during Christmas and the New Year.

Food Waste WebsiteMost of the food ends up in landfill where it produces methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.  However, as Dr Liz Goodwin WRAP Chief Executive says: “This is only part of the picture. You also have to consider all the embedded energy used to produce, package, transport and deliver the food to our homes which produces the equivalent of at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.”

But, according to new research commissioned by WRAP, it seems consumers have little idea that anything is being thrown away.  68% of consumers claim that no vegetables, not even brussel sprouts, end up in the bin and 41% say that not even a wing of turkey ends up being wasted.  Of those researched, the roast potato was certainly the most popular item on the plate with 81% of people claiming that every single last one is eaten. 

With confidence so high, how can there be an 80% increase in food waste at this time of year?  One of the underlying reasons may be due to the sheer number of people being cooked for during this time. 

The research indicates that, unlike Sunday lunch where the average number being cooked for is three, at Christmas 50% of people will be cooking for more than 5 people and 12% will be cooking for more than nine people.  This is a three fold increase in those catering for parties of five and more at Christmas, so buying the right amount of food and getting portions right is even more challenging than usual.

Key Facts

    •  In the UK we are throwing away one third of the food we buy. That’s like one in three bagfuls of food shopping going straight in the bin.
    • We throw away 6.7 tonnes of food each year in the UK, when most of this food could have been eaten. (Its not just peelings and bones –its good food).That’s equivalent to filling Wembley Stadium with food waste 8 times over!
    • In terms of environmental impact – producing, storing and getting the food to our homes uses a lot of energy. If we stopped wasting all this good food (food which could have been eaten), it would save the equivalent of at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.  That’s like taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads.
    • Most of this food reaches landfill sites where it emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
    • High economic cost - £8bn worth of food thrown out. That’s the cost to our pockets as consumers. UK householders are throwing out on average £400/year.
    • We throw food out for two main reasons: we cook or prepare too much; and we let food go off.
    • 90% of people unaware we waste so much food. But when we tested this with a food diary, most people wanted to take action – that’s why WRAP has launched a brand new campaign to help.

    WRAP believes that reducing food waste would deliver big environmental benefits as well as easing a financial burden. The good news is that the Love Food Hate Waste campaign is offering easy tips and ideas on how to reduce wasted food over the Christmas period.

    "By taking a few simple steps we could reduce the amount being wasted, which would have a big impact – stopping this amount of food waste each year, would be the same as taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads” explains Liz Goodwin.

    Ainsley Harriott, chef and TV presenter, is one of the many well known names supporting the new campaign. He is urging people to think before they cook:

    "Christmas is a time for indulgence but it’s very easy to find you’ve cooked a little too much,” he says. “If we get our portions right, we not only help the environment, we can keep money in our pockets for the New Year sales!”

    The Love Food Hate Waste campaign is encouraging everyone to enjoy Christmas and make the most of all the food we buy. Whether it is brussel sprouts or roast potatoes, Christmas cooks can work out how much to prepare by using the on-line Perfect Portions calculator at:

    We don’t have to worry if there are a few leftovers after the big meal - as Ainsley adds: “If you do happen to have any food left over, then make sure you put it to good use with some tasty recipes which can all be found on the Love Food Hate Waste website”.

    Related article: 6.7m Tonnes Annual Food Waste Is Environmental Sleeping Giant

    Source: WRAP


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