Takeaways fuel food waste surge

Businesses are being urged to help prevent food waste in the home after research showed levels rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.

The latest survey from Wrap’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign showed a spike in reported food waste coinciding with lockdown restrictions easing in June and July and more people eating out of the home and buying takeaways.

In July, food waste was on a par with pre-pandemic levels at 19.7%, with three in 10 people once again falling into the category of generating “high food waste” - up from 20% in April last year.

Previous Wrap research found that positive food management behaviours adopted during lockdown led to a 43% decline in food waste prompted in part by concerns about food availability.

Levels of waste bounced back slightly in June 2020 but were still 26% lower than in 2019 by the end of 2020.

Wrap suggested the recent rise was due to the dropping of new habits such as freezing, using up leftovers and batch cooking, as time pressures return.

The reopening of the hospitality sector has been another key factor with more people eating out or buying takeaways meaning food intended to eat at home can end up going to waste.

“The return of busy lifestyles means we are falling back into our old ways, and that risks these key skills not being used. After the shocking news from the IPCC this month, it is imperative we remember that wasting food feeds climate change and most food waste happens in the home,” said Sarah Clayton, head of citizen behaviour change at Wrap.

Wrap is calling on businesses to support Love Food Hate Waste and help ensure the positive food management behaviours people adopted “become the new normal, not a lockdown footnote”.

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