Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 14:55 UK

'Tonnes' of food wasted each year

Unused food in waste bin
Wasted food is a massive financial and environmental burden

Scottish households throw away a billion pounds worth of food a year, according to new report into eating habits.

The Waste and Resources Programme ( WRAP) report revealed the most common discarded items were fruit and vegetables, milk and bread.

Researchers examined waste from more than 1,000 homes and found that one in seven items was still in its packaging.

Disposing of food waste costs councils an estimated £85m each year.

The report found that Scottish households throw out 570,000 tonnes of food and drink each year. This translated to an annnual loss to the average household of £430.

It said most of this could have been avoided by better planning, storage and preparation.

The reasons we waste so much food are that we cook or prepare too much or we buy things and then don't use them in time
Dr Nicki Souter
Waste Aware Scotland

WRAP Scotland also claimed there was significant environmental cost to this amount of wasted food - the equivalent of 1.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.

The most common items of food and drink thrown out were milk (31,000 tonnes), bread (25,000 tonnes) and fruit and vegetables (96,000 tonnes).

Director of WRAP Scotland, Iain Gulland, said: "This new research shows the massive financial and environmental burden of food waste.

"Scottish households are throwing out huge amounts of food, most of which could have been eaten and this costs us dearly.

"Not only are we paying for food at the checkout, we are also paying to dispose of it through our council tax. This is a terrible waste in these difficult times."

The authors estimated that the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables binned could have contributed to a billion portions of the recommended 5-a-day intake had they been eaten.


Commenting on the report, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "I'm sure most people would agree that it's shocking to think that society needlessly wastes £1bn of food each year in Scotland.

"Food waste is one of the many issues currently being addressed in the government's draft Zero Waste Plan, which I would urge people to have their say on."

Dr Nicki Souter, Waste Aware Scotland campaign manager, added: "This report being so detailed truly shows the public how much food is currently being wasted in Scotland.

"The reasons we waste so much food are that we cook or prepare too much or we buy things and then don't use them in time."

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