‘Throwing money in the bin’: the huge cost of food waste

By reducing food wastage you can save cash and help the environment

What is food waste?

Put simply, food waste refers to “any food products that are thrown away as opposed to being consumed”, said Mark Hall on Waste can be split into four categories: by-product food waste, expired products, leftovers, and bakery and packaged food waste.

Britons are “desperately casting around for ways to save money” due to the cost of living crisis, said Zoe Wood in The Guardian. Yet many are “throwing their money in the bin”, with the average family chucking away more than £700 of perfectly good food each year.

The value of food waste is difficult to digest. According to food sharing app Olio, the annual value of food wasted globally is $1trn and weighs 1.3 billion tonnes. “Sadly, it is not an exaggeration to say that food waste is one of the biggest problems facing mankind today.”

How much food is wasted in the UK?

A 2015 study of six countries in the European Union found that Britons were the worst offenders for food waste across the continent. And in 2018 the UK produced around 9.5m tonnes of food waste – a 15% reduction from 2007, according to a report by the House of Lords.

“Great progress has been made”, but food waste from UK households and businesses is still around 9.5 million tonnes, said the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The food wasted has a value of more than £19bn a year and would make the equivalent of more than 15 billion meals – “enough to feed the entire UK population three meals a day for 11 weeks”.

During lockdown food waste “fell sharply” as people stuck at home began to “use leftovers, plan meals and freeze food rather than throw it away”, The Guardian said. However, once lockdown ended, food waste “rose again”.

The UK Government has committed to halving the UK’s per capita food waste by 2030.

The environmental impact of food waste

Food production, transportation and rotting waste all cause release of greenhouse gases, The Guardian reported. So by cutting food waste, we “can help the climate”.

Globally, 25% to 30% of total food produced is lost or wasted, WRAP said. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that food waste contributes 8% to 10% of total man-made greenhouse gases. “If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter after China and the USA.”

About 6% to 8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stop wasting food, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said. “In the US alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.”

What’s being done about food waste?

In a bid to stop waste and save money, many people took part in “Freegan February”, the i news site reported. Participants of the new challenge aimed to “eat only food that would have otherwise gone to waste – either thrown away by supermarkets or binned by restaurants”.

As well as initiatives like Freegan February, there are also a growing number of apps designed to “put a stop to food waste” from restaurants, cafes and bars, i news added. The Too Good To Go app connects customers with outlets to buy and collect food that would otherwise be wasted. Olio connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away.

Chef and TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is “on a mission” to “change the way we think about waste”. The River Cottage founder has launched a “war on waste” and is challenging the supermarkets and fast-food industry to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate.

What types of food are being wasted?

The average UK household throws away £60 worth of food a month, the Love Food Hate Waste campaign said. And every day in the UK 20 million slices of bread, 280 tonnes of poultry, 4.4 million potatoes and much more are wasted, The Guardian reported. Up to 2.7 million carrots are also thrown away each day.

Top tips for reducing food waste and shopping bills

A few simple steps could help reduce the environmental impact of wasting food, the WWF said. Tips include planning ahead and buying only what you need, using your freezer, and being creative with leftovers.

Keeping food out of the bin is “good for our pockets and the planet combined”, said Love Food Hate Waste. If you want to make a difference you should plan your shopping and buy just what you are likely to eat, make food last longer by “loving your freezer”, and make food go further with easy leftover recipes.

Martin Lewis, founder of, said that throwing food away is “the purest waste of money possible – I’ve been banging on about how to beat it for years”. Lewis suggested “five little wins” to save money and reduce wastage.

Get familiar with your fridge and friendly with your freezer.

Be “storecupboard savvy” and keep your cupboards and freezer well stocked.

Get your portions right.

Be crafty with your food with “lovely leftovers”.

Planning your meals is one of the “most effective ways you can save on your food bills”.




Top 10 Countries With Highest Food Wastage

A man in a remote village of Africa is battling for his life out of hunger while at the same time a man dumps gallons of food waste collected from a restaurant in a city in Germany. We see that food is the unfortunate thing that has been taken for granted in the world today. And some countries of all seem to be wasting hundreds of thousands of tons of food every year much more rapidly than they should.

the list of top ten countries with highest rate of food shortage. To our surprise, there are some ‘developed’ countries which happen to waste the most food-

  1. Denmark

One of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark is known to have one of the most exquisite lifestyles with organized system of healthcare, transportation and other facilities in place. The darker is probably less known to the world. Reports reveal that people here waste excess amounts of packed and unpacked food item and drinks. Estimates declare that 660 kilograms of food per person is wasted here, most of which is generated from restaurants, cafes, catering centers and houses. Many awareness programs have been initiated in Denmark to control this situation but none gave positive results.

  1. Netherlands

Netherlands is one among the countries that wastes food the most. The Dutch economy wastes as much as 610 kilograms of food per person per annum. A series of food saving projects have been initiated so far in Netherlands intending to bring awareness among people but nothing has given out any fruitful results.

  1. Germany

Wastage of food here not just includes junk food but a large amount of veggies and fruits as well. People in Germany throw away huge amount of valuable veggies and fruits annually. About 20 million tons of food is being wasted in Germany each year, with an average of 540 kilograms being wasted per person.

  1. United Kingdom

The kingdom where the sun never sets. It is said that each person in the United Kingdom wastes about 560 kilograms of food per person year. UK may be the most developed nations in the world today but it is also one of the countries with highest rate of food wastage. Sadly, 80 percent of the food waste is from the houses and residents in the country. Perhaps the English are not aware of food scarcity.

  1. Malaysia

It is ironic that Malaysia has some serious poverty concerns and also it is one among the countries which wastes most food. Urban Malaysia is said to be generating most amounts of food waste. Fruits, vegetables, and bakery items comprise the most of the food waste here. As per the statistics each person is said to be wasting 540-560 kilograms of food per year.

  1. Finland

Joining the list of countries that wastes most food, the Finnish waste about 550 kilograms of food every year. Finland being a prominent food manufacturing hub happens to be wasting a significant amount of food as a large part of the waste food comes from houses and food manufacturing brands. Large amounts of bread, fruits, bakery items, potatoes, homemade food and bakery dairy products would leave us in tears.

  1. United States of America

The pseudo-Super power of the world surprises us all in this list of shame. Yes, U.S. is a strong nation but if its strength is at the cost of $48.3 billion worth of food waste then it is not worth the power. Also, 50 percent of food is wasted from harvest, which shows the unsustainable agricultural practices followed in the States.

  1. Australia

Australia, the land down under gets a spot in the list of countries with highest rate of food wasted. Estimates show that the Australians waste 690 kilograms of edible food, per person per year. Surveys show that the reason for such massive amounts of food waste is the excessive purchase of eatables at cheap prices which once expired are dumped without being used at all.

  1. Canada

One of the highly civilized nations in the world, Canada happens to have some barbaric practices, like wasting immense amounts of food. It seems that they have no awareness of the importance of food. 640 kilograms of food per person per year goes wasted in Canada. Of all the cities, Toronto wastes the biggest quantity of food every year.

  1. Norway

Norway is no doubt ranked one of the safest nations in the world it is also one of the nations with best healthcare and sanitation facilities. It is rather bizarre to find such a country on the list. However the country wastes 3, 35, 000 tons of food from houses and offices making Norway a country with highest rate of food waste.

So, here we go living in a world where one wastes food because it is excess and the other feels blessed if it gets to eat one morsel for the whole day. It is time that we realized food wastage is directly proportional to food scarcity.


The Top Five Foods Being Wasted

According to Fearnley-Whittingstall, the top five foods being chucked away each year are:

  1. Bread: 240 million slices
  2. Milk: 5.9 million glasses
  3. Potatoes: 5.8 million
  4. Apples: 1.3 million
  5. Cheese


REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

– Nicolas Chamfort



Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’.” —Eleanor Roosevelt.


Happiness is…having not one item of food waste.


What happens when you don’t pay your exorcist? You get repossessed.


Love is…getting the giggles.


A time not to waste food…A time to ignore use by dates on food.








©2022 Phil M Robinson