Resource Use

Londoners could save £79m by avoiding food waste

Love Food Hate Waste

London residents could save £79 million in costs by reducing the amount of food waste they produce by 14 per cent, waste campaign Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) has found. The figure follows on from recent findings from a LFHW campaign in West London.

According to an evaluation report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which manages LFHW, a six-month project run by ‘Recycle for London’ (set up by WRAP and the Mayor of London) in six West London boroughs saw residents achieve a 14 per cent reduction in ‘avoidable’ food waste (food and drink that could have been consumed). The reduction in total food waste for the West London campaign was 35 per cent.

According to WRAP, the 14 per cent reduction could save West London boroughs up to £1.3 million each year through avoided disposal costs (including gate fees and landfill tax) and West London residents £14 million in costs.

Further, by scaling up the performance of the West London Boroughs to the whole of London, WRAP estimates that the capital city could save 29,400 tonnes of ‘avoidable’ food waste a year, saving residents £79 million in costs (based on a cost to consumers of £2,700 per tonne). This figure would further rise to 68,000 tonnes if the reductions in total food waste were scaled up to the whole of London, potentially saving local authorities up to £7.3 million in disposal costs.

Speaking of the figures, Dr Richard Swannell, Director at WRAP, said: “The Local Government Association has identified waste disposal as one of the most costly areas for local authorities. Our work highlights one way these can be reduced cost effectively – a short-term investment can deliver short term and potentially long term gain, both financially and environmentally.

 “And it’s not just local authorities who can help consumers reduce their food waste and reap the benefits. Retailers and brands have a role to play, particularly through the Courtauld Commitment and by utilising WRAP’s technical guidance, to help consumers make the best use of the food they buy.”

West London campaign

The West London borough LFHW campaign, funded by the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) ran between October 2012 and March 2013.

Implemented in the local boroughs of Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Richmond and Brent, the project used a range of communications and engagement activities to involve and advise local residents on reducing their food waste. By measuring consumer behaviours and the levels of food waste either side of the campaign, WRAP found that residents reduced the amount of avoidable food they threw away by 14 per cent, and total amount of food waste by 35 per cent.

The campaign was delivered in response to concerns about the level of avoidable food waste generated by UK households. According to WRAP, 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away each year, of which 4.4 million tonnes is avoidable. In London alone, an estimated 890,000 tonnes of food is thrown away each year (costing London boroughs over £50 million a year in disposal costs), with 540,000 tonnes of this avoidable.

Matthew Pencharz, Senior Adviser on Environment and Energy, at the Greater London Authority, said: “The LFHW activity in West London demonstrates considerable savings to households and local authorities can be made by taking really simple steps like making better informed purchasing habits and turning left over food into tasty new meals.”

The announcement follows on from WRAP’s publication of food waste collection and communications guidance for local authorities, which was issued last month.

Read more about Love Food Hate Waste or find out more about the West London LFHW campaign results.