March 15, 2022

WRAP, the U.K’s Waste & Resources Action Programme NGO, is celebrating the success of its second annual Food Waste Action Week, which took place between Monday 7 March and Saturday 13 March, fronted by popular television presenter Gregg Wallace.

As well as raising awareness of the “huge impact of household food waste on climate change”, Food Waste Action Week shares practical advice, food savvy behaviours and tips on how homeowners can reduce food waste, WRAP said. A key focus of the campaign this year was on reducing UFOs or Unidentified Frozen food Object – unlabelled food that is frozen food that eventually ends up in the bin.

Jackie Bailey, campaign manager at Love Food Hate Waste – the brand behind the action week – commented: “We’ve received over 200 pieces of media coverage and having Gregg Wallace as our celebrity ambassador has been fantastic. The campaign is galvanising the nation into changing habits for the better and reducing their household food waste.”

For the first time Food Waste Action Week also worked with partners around the globe to bring the issue to an international audience. Partners from 12 countries including Canada, USA, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Mauritius, Indonesia, Jordan, The Netherlands and New Zealand, all supported the initiative.

Love Food Hate Waste said it was also grateful for the support of some of the UK’s largest retailers and food brands who have provided financial donations to help amplify the week: including Aldi, Danone, Dunbia, KFC, IHG Hotels and Resorts, Ocado, OLIO and Sodexo.

Clear link between food waste and climate change

According to research by WRAP, only around one-in-three people in the UK see a clear link between wasting food and climate change, and as part of the campaign Love Food Hate Waste created a hard-hitting installation using food waste to show the scale of the issue.

In the UK, 6.6 million tonnes of household food is wasted every year. This food waste is responsible for nearly 25 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, WRAP says, which is equivalent to 5.4% of the UK’s territorial emissions.

The majority – 4.5 million tonnes – is food that could have been eaten and is worth approximately £14 billion (or £60 a month to an average family with two children). It requires an area almost the size of Wales to produce all the food and drink currently wasted in the UK.

Love Food Hate Waste runs an annual survey of people’s habits and knowledge around food waste. This highlighted that 81% of UK citizens are concerned about climate change, but only 32% see a clear link with food waste.

The survey helped to inform the theme of the week and the development of materials to motivate people to act. It found that 35% of the population think their freezer is “sometimes a total disaster and [it’s] extremely hard to work out what’s in there.”

And 19% of people said that they have thrown away something frozen in the past two weeks because it has laid dormant for too long.

In addition, as many as 69% of people of surveyed believe it’s safe to defrost meat at ‘room temperature’, which is the exact opposite of Food Standards Agency guidance and may be putting them at risk of illness.

Sarah Clayton, head of Citizen behaviour change at Love Food Hate Waste said: “Getting to grips with freezing and defrosting are big factors in preventing food from going to waste at home. At a time of rising food prices alongside huge public concern about climate change, tackling food waste at home is one way we can all make a difference and save money. For the average family with children, the cost of binning food can be more than £700 per year. So, Food Waste Action Week is all about avoiding those UFOs and being savvy in how we store but then use our food.”

Love Food Hate Waste is keen to show that used properly, the freezer is the king of the kitchen. In fact, freezing and defrosting just three key meat items that are commonly not used in time (fresh chicken, bacon, and sausages) could reduce waste of those items by as much as 15,000 tonnes per annum. And, when it comes to defrosting, busy households can avoid a lengthy overnight defrost by using their microwave instead – as people use a toaster to defrost sliced bread from the freezer.

Resources and Waste Minister Jo Churchill added: “Throwing good food away is a terrible waste of resources, water and energy. The amount of food we waste each year weighs the equivalent of over a million Asian elephants. Almost 70% comes from our own homes and the impact on the environment is immense.

“Food Waste Action Week is hugely important in bringing together the entire food supply chain, from farm to fork, to take action on this critical issue. There is a lot we can do as consumers, and I would encourage everyone to think about simple and creative ways to help us reach our ambitious target to halve food waste by 2030.”

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