Step up to the plate to stop food waste

Published: 2 Mar 2014

Step up to the plate to stop food waste 
Great strides have been made in decreasing the amount of food we throw away in the UK - but we can't be complacent about this vital issue. 
Quite rightly, the issue of food waste is at the heart of the green agenda today. We simply cannot keep generating the amount of food waste that we do, with all the associated wasted water and energy. The costs to the environment, the economy, and to the average UK household purse, are just too big to ignore. 
Seven years ago, Wrap's [Waste & Resources Action Programme's] ground-breaking research put this issue on the map, detailing the what, where, why and how of food waste, and how much of it could be avoided. It showed that the 8.3 million tonnes of all food and drink that we were wasting annually in the UK was costing the average family £700 a year, and accounting for 5% of the country's water footprint. It was clear something big needed to change - and it started to. 
Since then, we have been at the very heart of the action, working with businesses and consumers. The voluntary Courtauld Commitment, for example, has brought together governments, retailers and brands to tackle household food waste in a way not seen before. Our campaign Love Food Hate Waste, meanwhile, has provided an unrivalled platform to inform and engage with consumers about how to avoid food waste. 
As a result, the amount of avoidable household food waste has reduced by 21% since 2007. A huge achievement, yes; but, the truth is, momentum has slowed. Our latest report showed that 4.2 million tonnes of avoidable food waste - worth a staggering £12.5bn - is still being thrown away each year, and the rate of reduction in food waste has gone down. The reduction in food waste has only just kept pace with the increase in the cost of food - meaning we are all still wasting the same amount, financially. 
This is a time when family budgets are tight, and we live in a world where demand for food is increasing and the resilience of the supply chain is being regularly tested - so you might think there are enough drivers to keep the momentum going. But there aren't. We all need to up our game. 
UK retailers, politicians and consumers are saying this is a priority. I know there is real commitment to tackle this issue and now, more than ever, we need to work together to achieve it. We can't afford to let momentum wane. 
Avoidable food waste is a challenge for us all to tackle. Every day, I see innovations and initiatives by governments, local and national; by communities, by businesses, by think tanks, by consumers. We need to build on what we have achieved to date, roll out more initiatives and share ideas and best practice in manufacturing, in the supply chain, in supermarkets and in homes, up and down the country. 
We, at Wrap, think that it is possible to reduce avoidable household food waste by another 15 million tonnes by 2025, saving a staggering £45bn. That would represent a halving of the amount of food that was being wasted when we first started work in this area, seven years ago. It is a challenging ambition, but, I believe, an achievable one. 
We have all the ingredients for success here. We simply must not waste this opportunity to collectively step up to the plate and act now. 
Courtesy of the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/02/step-up-to-the-plate-to-stop-food-waste

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