Food waste creeps up as lockdown eased

The easing of lockdown measures risks food waste returning to pre-pandemic levels, WRAP has warned.

Research conducted in June found that although people have found ways to manage their food better, commitment to wasting less food is waning with self-reported waste increasing by 30% compared with the early stages of lockdown.

WRAP reported back in May that better pre-shop planning and in-home food management had contributed to a 34% reduction in waste of foods such as potatoes, bread, chicken and milk.

While concerns about going to the shops and running out of food motivated people to waste less in April, WRAP said those motivations have started weakening as restrictions are lifted.

When asked about the barriers to maintaining lockdown behaviours, 42% of people said it was easier to get hold of food or go to the shops again and 31% said they no longer worried about running out of food. The gradual return to the workplace and some pupils returning to school in June also contributed to a drop in focus on food waste reduction, according to WRAP.

Around half of those surveyed, however, said they hoped to keep all or a fair amount of the food shopping and preparation habits they had adopted during lockdown.

WRAP has launched a new campaign – Keep Crushing It – that aims to motivate people to maintain the activities they picked up in lockdown, such as freezing more food and making shopping lists. It will also highlight the effect these actions will have on the environment as well as the cost of people’s food shop.

“Wasting less food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. A quarter of people we surveyed don’t think they have time to actively waste less food, but it can be as simple as leaving the skin on when you make mash, or freezing more food before it passes the ‘use by’ date,” said Helen White, special advisor for household food and drink at WRAP.

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