Waste and recycling

Supporting detail:

Food waste

We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. This costs us £12 billion a year, harms the environment and wastes resources. In the UK food industry, waste is estimated to cost £5 billion per year.

Preventing food waste is better for the environment than any treatment, and can save money for businesses and households. When there is food waste, treatment by anaerobic digestion or in-vessel composting is more sustainable than landfilling, which creates greenhouse gases.

The Review of Waste Policy in England (2011) identifies food waste as a priority for action.

We are:

  • working with Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) and businesses on voluntary agreements to reduce food and packaging waste

  • providing ideas and information to help waste less, through the WRAP’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign

Examples of work to reduce waste include:

  • the Courtauld Commitment - a responsibility deal in the grocery retail sector which includes finding ways to reducing household waste from groceries

  • the hospitality and food service voluntary agreement, which aims to cut food and associated packaging waste by 5% and increase the overall rate of food and packaging waste that is being recycled, sent to anaerobic digestion or composted to 70% by 2015

Reducing waste in the food supply chain

WRAP estimates that:

  • waste costs businesses in the food and drink supply chain £5 billion, annually

  • the food and drink manufacturing sector alone could save about 720,000 tonnes of food and other material, worth £404 million

To help reduce and prevent waste in the whole of the food supply chain, we:

  • develop policy and conduct research
  • set an operating framework and fund WRAP to work on waste minimisation and other resource efficiency issues

This is part of our wider work to encourage sustainable production and consumption.