British people throw away more edible food than the citizens of other European countries, according to new research which finds the average person ditches the equivalent of a tin of beans every day.
UK households chuck out about six million tons of usable vegetables, fruit and cereals each year, or about 80kg to 110kg per person.
Households in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, by contrast, waste between 40kg and 60kg per person a year.
The research also found that around 80 per cent of the food that is thrown away is edible. The study found that vegetables, fruit and cereals made up the bulk of unnecessary food waste because they have shorter shelf lives and so are more likely to be perceived as being past their sell-by date.
However, large quantities of meat were also wasted, putting considerable additional strain on the environment, finds the report, which looks at six EU countries and is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
“Meat production uses much more resources [nitrogen and water] in the first place. So even a little bit of waste can have a big effect in terms of lost resources,” said Dr Davy Vanham, lead author of the paper by researchers at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
There are lots of ways to reduce the level of food waste, he said. “Education in schools would be valuable. And the food industry is quite cautious: a lot of food is still ‘good’ but it is thrown away when it passes its sell-by date.”
Family finances also typically play a role in how much food is wasted. “With Romania there is less food waste as the population tends to have less money,” Dr Vanham said.
He added: “It’s good that this waste is ‘avoidable’ because it means we’re able to do something about it.”Reuse content