Food, Space, Culture & Society : Strategies for reducing food waste in the United Kingdom

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Food wastage is a significant problem in the United Kingdom with roughly 15% of edible food discarded each year (National Statistics, 2011), which directly costs the average consumer £480 annually (WRAP, 2011). The ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign, run on behalf of the Waste and Resource Action programme’ (WRAP) explains that wasting food is both damaging to our finances and incredibly environmentally unsustainable; contributing unnecessarily to energy and water use in production, transportation and storage (LFHW[1], 2011). This has negative-multiplier effects including increased deforestation and land degradation (Forkes, 2007, cited in Mena, Adenso-Diab, Yurt, 2010). The 7.2 million tonnes of food wasted each year (LFHW[1], 2011) also contributes to one third of the UK’s annual CO2 emissions. If this wastage was eliminated the CO2 emission savings would be equivalent to removing 1 in 5 vehicles from the roads (Cabinet Office, 2008). This short essay will detail some measures that have been suggested to reduce food wastage among the various stakeholders, including producers and suppliers, retailers and the domestic sector.

Mena, Adenso-Diab and Yurt (2010) explored the root causes of food waste in the supply and retail sectors and concluded the main driver behind food waste were the natural characteristics of the product (shelf life, temperature regime, etc) when combined with market trends. The increasing demand for fresh produce and for food that is naturally seasonally unavailable correlated to the highest levels of waste as these products tended to have a very short shelf-life but are increasingly popular. Furthermore, other consumer-driven behaviours that have affected the extent to which food is wasted includes ...

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