16 March 2007, 14:43 PM
  • The average household in Britain throws away almost a third of all the food it buys, a report is expected to reveal today.

People throw away a total of 6.7 million tonnes of food a year according to the report by Government waste body, Wrap.

The BBC reports that even though half of the waste is inedible, such as teabags, it still means more that 15p in every £1 spent on food is wasted. The report is expected to focus on climate change and will argue that up to one fifth of our carbon emissions are related to the production, processing, transport and storage of food.

Most of the waste food goes into landfill sites, where it breaks down and produces gases that add to the greenhouse effect. The report is expected to blame the main causes of food wastage on people buying more than they need, keeping food in fridges that are too warm and allowing food to go out of date.

Jennie Price, chief executive of Wrap (the Waste and Resources Action Programme), said that as well as wasted money, energy was being squandered on producing and transporting food which was destined for the bin.

This meant unnecessary emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, she pointed out.

And she said there was a responsibility on supermarkets to help shoppers buy only the amounts of food that they really need.

Ms Price told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, “When you think about the amount of effort and energy - and I mean carbon energy - that goes into food production, this really is a serious issue for everybody, including the supermarkets.

“It does feel wrong that all that effort goes into the production of food - growing it and getting it to you - and then we throw it away. We are paying for this food that gets thrown away, so if we buy a little less and only what we need, then it helps our pocket as well.

A survey of 1,900 consumers for Wrap found that only ten percent would admit to throwing away a significant proportion of the food they buy, which suggests that many are unaware of the amount they are wasting, said Ms Price.
“If you think 15p or every pound you spend is going right in the bin, it does make you stop and think,” she said.

“We do it for all sorts of reasons. It’s very easy to buy lots of food. We have masses of choice, we like to make sure there’s plenty in the fridge and also we just don’t see what we throw away.”

People could reduce their waste by checking sell-by dates and arranging their meals to ensure they use food up before it goes off, as well as by looking in the fridge and cupboard before going shopping to see what they already have.

Talks with supermarkets suggested they were “pretty concerned” about the issue, said Ms Price. But there was more they could do to help consumers avoid waste. “If you want three pork chops, they shouldn’t sell you four. If you eat half a bag of salad, you should be able to reseal it and eat the rest next day. It’s partly about what we can do, but it’s also about what we are sold.”