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How reducing food waste is saving the UK millions

The United Nations estimates that global food waste costs between $750 billion and $1 trillion a year. Waste and Resources Action Program, a UK-based organization, has helped the UK save $2.1 million in disposable costs. 

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    Shoppers browse the aisles in the Canary Wharf store of Waitrose in London January 23, 2013. The United Nations estimates that global food waste costs between $750 billion and $1 trillion a year.
    Neil Hall/Reuters/File
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Food waste accounts for seven percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which equates to more than three billion tons of carbon emissions each year. The Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), a United Kingdom based organization working to advance food sustainability and decrease food waste, recenltly released a report delineating Strategies to Achieve Economic and Environmental Gains by Reducing Food Waste. WRAP emphasizes the need for collaboration between private and public institutions to implement “food waste prevention plans throughout the entire supply chain.” Additionally, the report highlights the prodigious economic and environmental benefits gained from food waste reduction initiatives in the UK.

The impetus for the report comes from the larger set of figures presented by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the environmental and economic impact of food waste, globally. In 2013, the FAO estimated the global value of food waste to be between US$750 billion and US$1 trillion a year. WRAP’s findings revealed that global consumer level food waste amounts to more than US$400 billion every year. As the middle class population continues to grow, WRAP estimates this value to increase even more, reaching US$600 billion over the next ten years.

In the UK, efforts to incentivize consumers to waste less have demonstrated great success. WRAP’s consumer targeted campaign project, Love Food Hate Waste, has helped raise public awareness on issues of food waste and the environment. In West London, the Love Food Hate Waste campaign facilitated through radio advertisements, local cooking clubs, social media, and other online and local advertising initiatives, resulting in savings of around £1.3 million (US$2.1 million) in disposable costs.

Recommended: Six 'urban agriculture' terms explained

WRAP’s research explicates on ways to reduce global food waste. The organization urges countries to employ preventative food waste initiatives and offers an illustration of successful tactics to help commence those efforts internationally.

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