The majority of Brits are in denial about the amount of food they waste, according to new figures which show almost 60% of people think they waste barely any – or even none at all.
A report from Wrap, seen exclusively by The Huffington Post UK, shows 12% of people think they waste no food at all, and 47% claim to throw away “hardly any”.
In fact, we waste one fifth of all the food we buy, when most of it – the equivalent of six meals a week – could have been eaten
The survey, taken in April 2016, shows that while 45% of people agree that throwing away less food is important to the environment, they have no concept of how much they themselves contribute to the problem.
Around a quarter (23%) of people felt they waste “a small amount”, while just 2% thought they waste “quite a lot”.
Wrap said its research speaking to 5,414 people showed “a lot of people feel they throw away less food from their homes than our research indicates,” said Helen White from Wrap.
“Three out of five people say that they waste no or hardly any food, but the average home throws away the equivalent of six meals each week, which could have been eaten. People simply aren’t aware they’re wasting food.”
The survey also showed Brits drastically underestimate how much money they could save by reducing their personal food waste.
Up to 60% of what is thrown in the bin was perfectly edible, and Wrap’s research shows the average household could save £39 a month by not wasting food, rising to £60 a month for households with children.
But when people were asked how much money they thought the average household could save, they estimated the figure to be a much lower £27.07 per month.
Respondents also estimated that in their own homes they could only save £15.83 per month, significantly lower than their estimate for the average household. “This demonstrates that people underestimate the amount of money they could save, and lots of us think that food waste is something that other people do. Helping people to realise how much they waste might help them to see that wasting less will actually save them money,” White told HuffPost UK.
Wrap carries out surveys twice a year and has revealed its April 2016 figures exclusively to HuffPost UK. The data suggests that despite the growing interest in food waste, the general public have not become more aware that they themselves can help to reduce it.
“When we are doing the food shop or making dinner, we’re mainly thinking about food that’s delicious and enjoyable to eat, and that’s exactly as it should be. If people realised the effort that went into producing food and that 15% of it ends up in the bin, we might be inclined to do more,” said White.
“It’s easy to not notice a little bit of food here and there being wasted, but it all adds up and we know people want to do the right thing. What they might not feel is that their small actions count: they do.”
The survey also found that the issues people were most concerned about were the price of food as well as sugar, fat and salt content. About 44% said that they were concerned with food waste, ranking it lower than those concerns.
These 15 facts from Wrap reveal what you need to know about the problem – and why it’s not something to ignore:
We’re losing moneyZoonar RF via Getty Images
It’s not rocket sciencefuzzbones0 via Getty Images
But it’s a LOT of foodVeronica Garbutt via Getty Images
Really, a lotshutterstock
We start but we don’t finishThomas J Peterson via Getty Images
Food waste is worse in our homesRidofranz via Getty Images
Even worse than another big problemShotShare via Getty Images
The common culpritsSSPL via Getty Images
Wasting good wineNicolas Wayne via Getty Images
Nothing wrong with wonkySageElyse via Getty Images
Gaseous problemLouise Murray / robertharding via Getty Images
But it’s not all bad newsEmma Farrer via Getty Images
More money for councilsgkrphoto via Getty Images
And less water wastedHemera Technologies via Getty Images
Saving the planetTomasSereda via Getty Images
Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe recently told HuffPost UK that food waste was a major concern for its customers and it is trying to “change people’s behaviour” to help them save money.
Sainsbury’s is investing £10 million to reduce the nation’s food waste over the next five years, including in a year-long experiment in the Derbyshire town of Swadlincote.
“Food waste has risen in prominence over a number of years, and customers are more and more concerned about first of all the kinds of waste that they make, the kind of food that they throw away, but also how they recycle things like packaging,” Coupe said.
“The average family in the UK wastes around £700 worth of food a year, so it clearly is a significant opportunity to improve things and to help customers save that money.”