Britain declares war on food waste

Filed in Waste News by on July 7, 2008 9 Comments
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Gordon brown talks food waste
Well, a man after my own heart at last. This has come not a moment too soon, don’t you think?
Don’t miss our tips for reducing food waste, once you’ve read this article!

The TImes, By Andrew Grice in Hokkaido, Japan. Monday, 7 July 2008

The Government is to launch a campaign to stamp out Britain’s waste food mountains as part of a global effort to curb spiralling food prices.

Supermarkets will be urged to drop “three for two” deals on food that encourage shoppers into bulk-buying more than they need, often leading to the surpluses being thrown away. The scandal of the vast mountains of food that are thrown away in Britain while other parts of the world starve is revealed in a Cabinet Office report today. It calls for a reduction in food waste: up to 40 per cent of groceries can be lost before they are consumed due to poor processing, storage and transport.

The report says UK households could save an average of £420 per year by not throwing away 4.1 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten. Read more

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (9)

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  1. Brian says:

    I know that Gordon Brown is being derided over many things at present but it’s wrong that he’s taking flak on this issue. The amount of food wastage is incredible in this country but what is particularly confusing is how much of this comes from individual households, from the retail sector, from catering, and from farmers (as a result of the product not being aesthetically perfect). So this £400 plus per household per annum wasted may not be too accurate! Personally I’m very passionate about not wasting food and it’s good to get people talking about it.

  2. Jane says:

    You’re right, this really isn’t a moment too soon. I’ve been consciously trying to buy only what we need recently. I find it frustrating at the local market when I ask for 2lbs of potatoes (they’re only for 3 of us) and they say “sorry love, it’s 5lb a £…. but I don’t want that many as they’ll only go to waste. I want to buy small quantities of fresh food.

    It’s similar when, if you’re not trying to aim for zero waste! – you buy cooked meat. You may only want it for one sandwich / one lunch, as it has such a short shelf life, but no, you get enough for days! So, you buy it loose and the price doubles… ah well! At least that way there is less waste.

  3. Mr. Green says:

    I suspect that Gordon Brown has made this statement for political reasons, more than altruistic or personal conviction. Whatever the political background, we need to support this statement and send a message that what he says is recognised and endorsed by many individuals. Unfortunately, there is a more sinister problem supporting the isuue and that is marketing policies by food manufacturers. Put simple, they want us to buy more and that is blatantly encouraged by using marketing ploys such as the ‘3 for 2 bargains’ and ‘buy one get one free’ tricks. I guess we have all fallen for it some time and this is exactly what promotes excessive waste because we get produce we don’t need. How Gordon Brown will legislate againsts marketing processes, I don’t know. Ultimately, it comes down to us the consumer being wise to the tricks and not falling for them.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Hello Brian – good to see a new face here.

    I completely agree that the £400 is probably way off the mark! If it’s said that we throw away a third of our shopping every week (which the Dispatches programme that highlighted this the other week would give me horrified reason to believe); then the figure must surely be more in the region of £2000. Not to mention the other sectors, as you outline.

    I’ve been shocked to read the abuse Gordon Brown is getting about this issue; I thought it was one of the more sensible ideas 😀

    Do you have any special tips to help people to reduce their amount of food waste that we could share here?

    Hi Jane, I’m hoping that things might really start to change now, with consumers being able to buy the amounts they need. Let’s see what happens 🙂

  5. Sensiblechap says:

    Ten ways to stop Britain wasting food!

    1. Having pets wastes food. Pets produce nothing, they only consume. Eat your cat today and help to end world poverty! Keep a small mouse as a pet instead.

    2. We should shoot all the squirrels in parks and only let goats graze in the trees.

    3. Women should set an example by only dating short men. Anyone over six foot two should be prohibited from placing a personal ad with a dating agency. The Pirelli calendar should only feature size zero models.

    4. Every attic in the country should be converted into a greenhouse to grow tomatoes and every basement and bath into a fish farm.

    5. All school playing fields should be converted into farms and schoolchildren taught how to farm.

    6. Detergent powder makes an excellent alternative to rice, for throwing confetti and keeps streets and churches nice and clean! In addition, as an added bonus, the cheaper brands have a sterilising effect.

    7. Potatoes use less water and land per kilogram yield than any other crop grown in Britain. We should all eat chips everyday and encourage our children too!

    8. Just one Robbie Coltrane could feed an entire village in sub-Sahara Africa for a whole year!

    9. Cotton is a crop grown on land that could be used to grow food. Cotton uses much water that could be used to irrigate land to grow more food. People who don’t wear protective patches on their elbows, knees and shoulders and don’t habitually carry shotguns should be shunned because they are wasting cotton, needlessly!

    10. We should all drink real ale. Alcoholic beverages, except real ale, are very inefficient uses of foodstuffs!

  6. Mrs Green says:

    😀 well, there’s a wonderful example of keeping a good sense of humour about the serious message of this site.

    Thank you sensible chap (although Pussus Green was not that enamoured with number 1 😉 )

    Number 5 on the other hand, I’m extremely in favour of – let’s teach our children some real life skills in the classroom.

    Thanks for sharing a giggle with us,
    mrs G

  7. Hey Mrs Green…do you think Mr Brown would let us visit for lunch and we could tell him how much we support him on the Food Waste front. Methinks I would have to change my name though…what do you think…perhaps Mrs White? (no that’s too Angelic)…hmmm perhaps Mrs Blue? After all, that was the colour of the air sometimes during my Zero Waste Week. ;-D

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hehehe! This is beginning to sound more and more like a Cluedo game. It was Mrs green in the kitchen with the frying pan 😀

  9. LOL…or was it Mr Brown in the Library with the knife? ;-D

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