Food waste leads to 6% of UK water footprint

Households in the UK use 6.2 billion cubic metres of water every year to produce food that they then throw away. The statistic is the highlight of the first ever […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Households in the UK use 6.2 billion cubic metres of water every year to produce food that they then throw away.

The statistic is the highlight of the first ever study of the water and carbon footprint of wasted household food in the UK.

The survey was jointly published by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and the WWF and found that water used to produce food that householders in the UK then waste represents 6% of the UK’s water requirements.

The 6.2 billion cubic metres of water used to produce the 5.3 million tonnes of food that householders waste every year is nearly twice the annual household water usage of the UK.

The same wasted food also represents 3% of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said: “These figures are quite staggering. The water footprint for wasted food – 280 litres per person, per day – is nearly twice the average daily household water use of the UK, 150 litres per person per day.

“The greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste are greater than those already saved by the total amount of household recycling that takes place in the UK.

She added: “Although greenhouse gas emissions have been widely discussed, the water used to produce food and drink has been overlooked until recently. However, growing concern over the availability of water in the UK and abroad, and security of supply of food, means that it is vital we understand the connections between food waste, water and climate change.

“We already know that by reducing food waste, householders can save money. Now it’s absolutely clear that they can make a big contribution to addressing environmental concerns too.”