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Wasteful Britons throw away £12bn of food and drink a year... costing each household £680



By Sean Poulter

Last updated at 9:45 AM on 10th November 2009




article-1226526-0726AA3B000005DC-541_233x380.jpg Wasteful: Throwing away food costs each household £680 a year


Britons are throwing out at a staggering £12billion of food and drink a year, including huge quantities of wine, it is claimed.

Government advisers claim the average family is wasting around £680 a year - more than £50 a month - by failing to plan their buying and eating more carefully.

The new calculation tops a figure of £10billion produced last year because it now includes drink, such as milk and even wine that is poured down the sink.

Official estimates suggests the nation is pouring away some £470million of wine a year.

Officials at the Government's waste advisory body WRAP went through the bins of almost 2,000 households to see how much food is going to waste.


They have now supplemented this information with details of the drinks thrown out based on the food and waste diaries of some 300 families.


The Government has criticised supermarkets for offering BOGOF deals on fresh produce for encouraging people to buy more food than they need.


Ministers have gone so far as to argue that the deals should be banned to cut waste.


WRAP said: 'We throw away 8.3 million tons of food and drink per year in the UK. Most of this - 5.3 million tons - could have been consumed. That’s like filling 4,700 Olympic sized swimming pools.







'We throw food out for two main reasons. Firstly we cook or prepare too much, costing us around £4.8billion per year and secondly we let food go off, either completely untouched, or opened but not finished, which costs £6.7billion per year.


'In terms of environmental impact, producing, storing and getting the food and drink to our homes uses a lot of energy.


'If we stopped wasting all this food and drink, it would save the equivalent of at least 20million tons of carbon dioxide. That’s like taking one in four cars off UK roads.'


Looking at drink, WRAP claims that 'avoidable drink waste' costs us £1.6billion a year.


For example, we throw away around £250million of fizzy drinks and £190million of fruit juices and smoothies every year. On top of that is another £110million of tea, which is most likely to be half-drunk cups.


Some £280million worth of milk is thrown away per year. This is not just milk that has gone off in the fridge but also milk that is leftover from serving too much with, for example, breakfast cereals.

WRAP said: 'Wine is the most costly drink poured down the sink. Although overall disposed in smaller quantity the overall cost of pouring it down the sink to the householder is high at £470million per year.


'Wine is likely to be wasted because too much has been served. Only a very small amount was recorded as having gone off.'

WRAP calculates that the country is throwing out 860,000 tons of fresh vegetables and salads a year, 500,000 tons of fresh fruit; and 680,000 tons of bread and cakes.

The weight of food and drink thrown away by a typical household in a year


Fresh vegetables and salad 33.6kg (73.9lb)

Drink 36.1ltrs (63.56 pints)

Bread and cakes 26.4kg (58.1lb)

Ready meals/take-aways 26.4kg (58.1lb)

Eggs, cheese, cream and other dairy 20.4kg (44.9lb)

Fresh fruit 19.2kg (42.2lb)

Meat and fish 12kg (26.4lb)

All other 37.2kg (81.8lb)

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