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Why does food waste matter so much?

Updated: Apr 3

Food waste is a growing problem, and one which threatens both the developed and developing world.

When we approach the issue of wasted food, it’s important to see it for both the local and international issue it represents, as well as exploring its impact on everything from the food industry itself to the environment and even ongoing food poverty.

Food bin with food waste

What is food waste?

Food waste can be broken down into the edible and the inedible. Some foodstuffs are simply not used in time. They pass their expiry dates (or degrade in quality) to the extent where they cannot be eaten, resulting in edible food wastage. The inedible category meanwhile includes things like egg shells, bones and fruit cores – items which can’t be consumed, but can in some cases be reused or repurposed to help limit wastage.

It’s the edible side of the issue we really need to focus on, since it is an avoidable offshoot of many of our modern practices surrounding food. The UK alone is guilty of throwing away some £13bn of food in 2015, much of which could have been eaten, according to official statistics.

The financial impact

Food wastage has a financial impact for households across the country. On average, UK households are said to waste around £470 in food each year – food which should have been edible.

Budget-conscious shoppers are likely to be alarmed by this, since such a large sum could easily be saved for a rainy day with a little forward food planning.

The environmental impact

Food waste often ends up in landfill. Here, it produces large quantities of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases are largely responsible for global warming and climate change alike, due to their effect on the atmosphere of earth.

This could have a catastrophic effect upon future generations and is a sobering reminder that we all need to think more carefully about what food we throw away.

The impact on world hunger

It’s been estimated by the UN that as many as one in nine don’t have access to enough food. Hunger is a large global killer, and it is terrible that so much food goes to waste while so much of the world goes without.

The impact on the food industry

Food loss isn’t always the result of negligence on the part of the individual – it also stems from poor practices adopted by food companies in the first place. Edible food is routinely discarded due to not meeting rigorous standardisation expectations, or simply due to poor food management and oversupply. Thankfully, there are ways to fight back.

It’s only through getting to grips with the issue that we can move forwards to help combat it. At Earth & Wheat, we’re doing our bit to fight food waste by working closely with local bakeries to offer customers the UK’s first ever subscription ‘wonky’ bread box, delivered right to your door.

To find out more, take a look at the official website here.

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