Food waste increasing as lockdown eases, WRAP reports

Self-reported food waste has increased by 30 per cent as lockdown continues to ease in the UK, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which has launched a new campaign to encourage good food waste habits.

In a new report released today (29 July), entitled ‘Food Waste and Covid-19 - Survey 2: Lockdown easing’, WRAP revealed that levels of food waste among UK citizens have increased as lockdown eases.

An image of food waste in a caddy
Statistics compared findings from April 2020 with those of June 2020 and found positive and sustained changes in food management behaviours during this period, including preparing meals at home and checking the cupboards before going grocery shopping.

However, the report also found a marked increase in food waste, with an average 17.9 per cent increase in food thrown away, compared with an average of 13.7 per cent in April 2020, which was a historic low. This came after food waste was reported to have fallen by seven per cent, the equivalent of 480,000 tonnes, from 2015 to 2018.

Among those more likely to have reported higher levels of food waste in their household are people who have returned to work full-time (62 per cent) or in the office (53 per cent), those with children who have returned to school (54 per cent), those between the ages of 18 and 34 (47 per cent) and those who have started frequently shopping for groceries again (44 per cent).

Despite the increases, the people are reporting encouraging new behaviours, with WRAP’s research suggesting that people are utilising an average of seven new behaviours to manage food better, with 70 per cent of people wanting to maintain at least some of these when life returns to ‘normal.

To encourage people to maintain these behaviours, WRAP has launched the ‘Keep Crushing It’ campaign under its Love Food Hate Waste brand, which aims to encourage UK citizens to keep up positive food management behaviours established during the country’s lockdown, from checking their cupboards before going shopping, and checking their fridge temperature to freezing more food and making shopping lists.

Further, the campaign will highlight how food waste contributes to climate change and the impact good food management behaviour has on reducing carbon emissions.

Previous WRAP food waste campaigns have targeted overbuying of food and preventing food waste in restaurant kitchens.

Commenting on WRAP’s report and the ‘Keep Crushing It’ campaign, Peter Maddox, Director of WRAP UK, said: “We’ve seen clearly how effective the Love Food Hate Waste messages and tools are – we need to reach more people to widen our impact. Our partners have a key role to play in amplifying the ‘Keep Crushing It’ campaign, whether they are from across the supply chain, local and national governments, or charities and not-for-profits.

“The more novel and innovative ways we find to engage with new audiences about this, the greater our chance of meeting the crucial target of halving wasted food by 2030.”
Helen White, Special Advisor for Household Food and Drink at WRAP, added: “Wasting less food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. A quarter of people we surveyed don’t think they have time to actively waste less food, but it can be as simple as leaving the skin on when you make mash, or freezing more food before it passes the ‘use by’ date. Follow Love Food Hate Waste on Instagram to discover the small actions that add up to a big difference.”

You can view the full report, ‘Food Waste and Covid-19 - Survey 2: Lockdown easing’, on the WRAP website.