C2025 Milestone Progress Report - WRAP

24th January 2020

The UK is making significant steps in reducing its food waste, with total food waste levels falling by 480,000 tonnes between 2015 and 2018 – a 7% reduction per person and equivalent of filling London’s Royal Albert Hall ten times. 

The new data comes from sustainability not-for-profit WRAP’s latest Courtauld Commitment 2025 milestone report, which sets our progress in food waste reduction since 2007. It reveals that households and businesses are now tackling the problem at an accelerated rate, with a greater rate of progress from 2015 to 2018 than over the preceding five years.  

2020 Food waste falls by 7% per person in three years:

• New data shows almost half a million-tonne reduction in total UK food waste in just three years – enough to fill the Royal Albert Hall ten times.
• Reducing food waste has saved citizens over £1 billion per year compared to 2015.
• WRAP calls for further action to reduce food waste to help tackle climate change.
Looking back to when WRAP began work on household food waste, a total of 1.4 million tonnes of food has been saved from going to waste each year in our homes compared to 2007 levels - enough each year to fill 150,000 food collection trucks which, if placed end to end, would stretch from London to Prague. 

While good progress, there is much more to do WRAP warns – across the whole food chain. The report shows that UK households still waste 4.5 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten, worth £14 billion every year (£700 for an average family with children). The volume of food still wasted equates to ten billion meals.  A reduction of 4% in the supply chain also shows good overall progress from businesses, but WRAP says many more businesses need to step up their action on food waste to help halve global food waste by 2030. 
The significant decrease in household food waste can be attributed to a range of factors including heightened public awareness through WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign, clearer labelling on food packaging, and more local authorities offering residents separate food waste collections in line with WRAP’s Framework for More Consistent Collections - helping to raise awareness within the home. 

Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC said “Universities and Colleges have played a big part in the reduction of food waste over the last few years. We are seeing real innovation in the sector and we would encourage those that have not yet started to take steps to reduce their food waste to look to universities and colleges for examples of best practice. We commend WRAP for the work they have done on this, and we look forward to continuing to support them. Tackling food waste is an overdue issue and institutions must act now to reduce all forms of waste.”

Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, “We are in a new decade and have just ten years if we are to honour our international commitment to halve food waste. This really matters because it is untenable that we carry on wasting food on such a monumental scale when we are seeing the visible effects of climate change every day, and when nearly a billion people go hungry every day. This great news announced today means we are starting to wake up to the reality of food waste, but we are too often turning a blind eye to what is happening in our homes. We are all thinking about what we can do for the environment and this is one of the most simple and powerful ways we can play our part. By wasting less food, we are helping to tackle the biggest challenges this century – feeding the world whilst protecting our planet.”

However, while the most significant drop in household food waste since 2010, WRAP’s latest annual citizen survey – also released today -  found that despite more of the public being aware of the issue of food waste, less than half of the population (39 per cent ) connect wasting food at home with the impact this has on the environment. Based on self-reported estimates for the most commonly wasted foods (potatoes, bread, chicken and milk) it appears around one in three people would still be classified as being high food wasters. 

While the UK is a global leader in tackling food waste and supporting international food waste prevention projects, WRAP wants the UK to go further, faster. The organisation will continue to work closely with governments, businesses and citizens to address this throughout 2020; including the launch of a bold and far-reaching public campaign to ignite a national food conversation and complement the work of Love Food Hate Waste.

Examples of university and college initiatives contributing towards the decrease of food waste, include:

 Lancaster University Campus Community Fridge - The first of its kind in the UK, is helping to reduce food waste, raise awareness of the global issue and make free food accessible to people every day. An ever-growing team of student volunteers coordinate daily collections of unsold food, donated by on-campus providers, with the collected food made freely available for anyone to take via a communal fridge and dry store.

Liverpool Guild of Students – Installed two food composters, a Guild roof garden, two vertical gardens and a permaculture site. Over the last three years over 28 tonnes of food waste have either been converted into fuel gas and farm fertiliser or used on-site producing compost. Surplus compost is distributed to local community allotments and schools.

Sheffield Hallam University - Taste Hallam is the signature brand for Sheffield Hallam University's Catering offer to its students, staff and visitors. With over 85 catering colleagues across 14 catering outlets on two campuses, the service provides healthy options for up to 35,000 staff and students. The service integrates a sustainable approach within all stages of its catering operations, from procurement to waste disposal. Key initiatives have included collaboration with our Nutrition Course students to design and sell a range of healthy menus and recipes; and with the national social enterprise, the Real Junk Food Project to use food diverted from landfill.

Wiltshire College and University Centre – Disadvantaged students on a Foundation Studies Course at Wiltshire College have established the Apple Project to make and preserve apple juice. This project is in partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife who managed a community orchard in Devizes. The apples fell on the ground and rotted. A plan was devised to glean a third of the apples for juice, use another third for community and leave the remaining third for the wildlife.
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