£40 a month for junked food

In OECD Insights: Sustainable Development, chapter 5 on production and consumption mentions a report on food waste published by UK government advisory agency WRAP. The latest WRAP report also includes wasted liquids. It estimates that UK households generate 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink waste a year. That makes 330 kg (726 lbs) per year for each household on average, or just over 6 kg (13 lbs) per household per week. The figure would no doubt be much higher if food processing and catering were included.

5.3 million tonnes of this waste is avoidable. The rest is split equally between “unavoidable” and “possibly avoidable” waste.

Of the avoidable food and drink waste, 2.2 million tonnes is left over after cooking, preparing or serving, and 2.9 million tonnes is not used in time.

For the average household, the retail price of the avoidable food and drink waste is £40 ($65) per month. Given that the average household spends £260 ($424) a month on food and drink, avoidable waste accounts for around 15% of the shopping budget.

It’s not just the budget that suffers. The average household generates 210 kg of avoidable food and drink waste per year. This translates into roughly the equivalent of 0.8 tonnes of CO2. That doesn’t sound much compared with the 33 tonnes CO2 equivalent per household per year, but it is the equivalent of all members of a household taking an annual return flight from London to Vienna, or a quarter of the annual mileage driven by the members of that household. See the full report here