It is incredibly challenging to reduce food waste, and the stalling of progress shows just how difficult it is. That’s why I’m calling on all businesses, organisations, campaigners and NGOs who work in this area, to unite together in the fight against food waste. By working together we can win this battle.

Marcus Gover, CEO, WRAP

New insights and a targeted approach

As a nation, the UK has come a long way in reducing food waste. Household food waste is down by nearly one million tonnes compared to 10 years ago. But we have identified a gap between people’s awareness of food waste as an issue, and what we do in our own homes. Around 60% of people simply believe they waste either no food, or hardly any.

The fact is the average UK home throws away a quarter tonne of food each year – 500 meals worth. The main reasons why we all waste food tend to go unnoticed – we may cook too much and not use up leftovers, or we don’t use up food in time.

We’ve had success with Love Food Hate Waste and a ‘broad-brush’ approach in the past, cutting household food waste by 12%, but with recent figures showing household food waste reduction plateauing, there is now a need for a new approach.

Since first making the case for greater unity in the fight against food waste in  January 2017, WRAP has devoted time to re-evaluating, re-focusing and researching further the triggers of household food waste. These new insights have helped develop a more targeted approach, and WRAP will now work with Courtauld 2025 signatories and other partners to concentrate on the most wasted food products, and engage with people who generate the most waste. Initial focus will be on two common behaviours in the home that can reduce food waste, buying the right amount of food, and storing food to make it last longer.

Our priority is to engage with the 18-34 age group. Life changes for this group such as moving away from the family home, taking their first job, becoming responsible for their own upkeep, and starting families, can be triggers for letting food go to waste. WRAP found that this age group throws away more food than others, largely due to busy lifestyles with ever changing arrangements.

National coordinated action

WRAP is bringing together the many disparate groups at work across the UK to take coordinated action behind a common ambition. We want to encourage debate and accelerate action by engaging with multiple partners across sectors to amplify our individual efforts and make it easier for everyone to act together to achieve the change we all seek. Courtauld 2025 signatories, including retailers, brands and local authorities with their massive consumer reach, will play a leading role.

We know that all change takes place locally, so we will be working with partners to develop our understanding of the most effective ways to change citizen behaviours at a grass roots level, before scaling up activity. Sainsbury’s extensive pilot activity in Swadlincote has already been valuable in providing insights.

We want to do everything we can to support partners in their own efforts to help citizens reduce food waste. We will make our evidence, insights and resources freely available for partners to use and adapt. By working together we believe we can win the food waste fight.