The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found around 6.4 million tonnes of food (and drink) waste was generated from UK households in 2021/22. Broken down, they estimate that this equates to 95 kg per person per year or 247 kg per household of 4 people. 

Despite recent media protest, the issues have been prevalent since the start of rationing in WW1. Introduced in 1918, sugar, meat, butter, cheese and margarine were rationed in order to prevent food shortages. While this aimed to equally share the sparse resources, it in turn caused families to conserve their rations through inventing recipes which utilised all left-over scraps. This developed further in WW2 where slogans such as “Food—Don't Waste It!,” and “Grow Your Own—Can Your Own,” were used to once again reduce wastage. The conservative government also increased education on the how to reduce waste and imposed legal sanctions on those who did not comply. 

Since the start of the 2000’s, easily accessible and affordable food is found due to the increased supermarket competition. This is exemplified by Tesco, who created their Express format in 1994 with the smaller shops created to bring customers closer to locations. Now nearly 80% of the UK is within 10 minutes of an Express store. Subsequently, greater access to cheap food diminishes its value, so families are more likely to throw food away without second thought. Due to the rising problem, the government launched the “Love Food, Hate Waste” campaign in 2007 aimed to raise public awareness and encourage individuals to reduce their food wastage. 

During the pandemic, many families around the UK began to hoard canned foods, to prepare for being locked in for large periods of time. Although, the stockpiling was generally for long life products, this still showed the instilled habits of greed. Nevertheless, it identified the need for careful allocation of resources, as many families made sure to utilise all aspects of food. This is seen with the rise of recipes on social media that used all the food, such as ‘broccoli stalk chips’. 

Additionally, within the covid crisis, people found sanctuary in nature by sitting in gardens and going for permitted walks. This evidently shifted the focus on the environment and spread awareness on the ways to be conscious of human impacts, like reducing unnecessary food wastage. This is as the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) associated with wasted food and drink in the UK accounted for approximately 18 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2021/22. Addressing this food waste is crucial for meeting international climate targets. 

As a whole, measures are needed for the UK, such as meal planning, proper storage practices, donation of surplus food to charities, and raising awareness about expiry dates, so we can reduce wastage significantly.