Surprising Statistics on Food Waste in the UK

14Oct 2015

Have you ever thought about how much food you are wasting on a daily basis? Probably not much, but when you do it on a day-to-day basis, the numbers keep rising to absolutely shocking levels. The sheer amount of food wasted across the UK will leave you baffled because people just focus on throwing away leftovers without accumulating the total amount that eventually ends up for waste removal. But if you stop and think about it, you can multiply those small sandwiches that were left after Friday night’s party by, at the very least on a very peaceful Friday, thousands of others across the whole country and you get a big skip hire’s worth of food going away for junk disposal. Those peas that your children don’t like also go to waste, along with millions of others which can make up to more than a market-load of peas. And those are only the theoretical statistics.


Let’s have some real statistics. In a study, the European Commission calculated the amount of annual food waste by countries in the EU, and the number was a flabbergasting 89 million tonnes of food being thrown out, and that number is expected to rise more and more, to up to 125 million tonnes by 2020 unless extreme measures are taken. France, for instance, is forbidding supermarkets to throw away unsold food and will make them give it away for charity instead. And the funny part about all that? The UK’s annual food waste amounts to around 15 million tonnes, about 5 of which are still consumable. How crazy is that?


This should not come as a surprise, though, as UK households often throw away perfectly good food that could have been eaten at some point. The biggest reason for wasting food is that UK cooks usually overdo it in the kitchen and prepare more food than is eventually eaten. Most of the time the leftovers of yesterday’s dinner are kept in the fridge until the new meal is prepared the very next day and the leftovers become a subject of waste removal. Because of this, UK households are responsible for 50% of all the food waste in the country.


Fruits, vegetables, salads, drinks, and bakery are the usual suspects when it comes to a junk disposal heap found in a typical UK household. Imagine that – basically, you are throwing away half of the products you bought yesterday when you went grocery shopping! Milk and a variety of juices spoil away in the fridge while typical families are too busy consuming snacks and soda, and half the meals that are being cooked are thrown away, forgotten or neglected in order to “leave room” for the ample dessert.


Statistics show that about 60% of the meals that Britons do throw away in the waste disposal heap are actually still edible and could have very well lasted another day or two, but once grocery shopping is done and room in the fridge is needed, the chronologically first placed item there is one that becomes a subject of unquestionable rubbish removal. Supermarkets can be of blame for that as well with their different promotional tactics, such as the buy-one-get-one-free offers that quickly sell their products to people who are thinking they are buying cheap and plentiful, but often they only use up the one product whose price they paid for and throw away the other one.


The biggest problem with all of this is the rising price of food. With the wasting away of food, some products become scarce and, therefore, sought outside of the country. Both delivery and imported items become more expensive which, along with the food waste, raises the price people pay for the money they throw away in an never-ending, and yet, ever-losing cycle.


Luckily, and both strangely enough, despite all these horrible statistics, estimates show that there is an actual improvement in recent years and the UK is starting to reduce its food waste numbers – the drop is around 20% between 2007 and 2012. Maybe soon, if you buy smart and consume properly, the food going down for waste disposal will be down to a minimum, and prices of products on the market will be affordable to all buyers.

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