A new campaign has been launched aimed at ending Britain's wasteful attitude towards food.
Leftovers are a cheaper, greener option
A third of all food bought in Britain's High Streets - even though perfectly edible - ends up in the bin, according to the organizers.
The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) claims that 6.7 tonnes of food is thrown out with the rubbish at an estimated cost of £8bn per year.
The 'Love Food Hate Waste' campaign aimed at raising consumers' awareness of waste is supported by the Government and will be backed by celebrity chefs and a website which will offer practical advice.
"It is sad that so much food is being wasted needlessly" explains Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP chief executive. "At a cost of £8 billion a year, it's a serious issue that not only impacts the environment but our pockets too"
"Our research showed that 90 per cent of consumers are completely unaware of the amount of food they throw away. Once attention is drawn to it however, we know that people are surprised and keen to take action."
Food waste has a serious impact on the environment because most of it ends in landfill where it decays and produces the potent greenhouse gas methane.
There is also the embedded energy costs of producing, packaging and transporting the food which WRAP claims produces the equivalent of at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
"If we could halt the amount of food being wasted in this way, we would make a big impact – the same as taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads" said Dr Goodwin.
Joan Ruddock, Defra Minister with responsibility for recycling and waste, said: "Food production and consumption has a serious impact on the environment. There is a lot individuals can do to reduce their carbon footprint, including reducing their food waste. This campaign will show them how easy this can be and that it makes financial and environmental sense.
"WRAP's work with retailers and consumer groups to spread the message and raise awareness is vital. But we also need the food industry to change.
"That's why the Government has introduced the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), so that we can work with them to improve their environmental, social and economic performance."
The TV chef, Ainsley Harriott, who is supporting the campaign, said: "The amount of food we throw away is criminal and we all need to take action and start changing our behaviour. That's why I'm supporting Love Food Hate Waste."
"This campaign is aimed at everyone. You don't have to be a chef to know how to cut down on food waste, you just need to care about your food and your pocket and the rest will follow."
Commenting on the WRAP 'Love Food, Hate Waste' campaign, Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drinks Federation said:
"The food and drink manufacturing industry is determined to make a real difference in reducing its impact on the planet – which is why FDF launched its five-fold environmental ambition in October.
"Reducing waste is a key part of that bold plan and we will be working with WRAP, and others, to cut the amount of food and packaging waste that ends up in household bins and landfill. Given our common agenda, we welcome WRAP's new campaign."
The Love Food Hate Waste campaign features a website www.lovefoodhatewaste.com which gives advice, ideas on preparation, storage, portioning and recipes.
Waste food facts
People in Britain are effectively throwing away every third bag of shopping they buy - and most of it ends up in landfill.
People throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food a year according to WRAP.
About half of this is edible, with the rest substances like peelings and meat bones.
Waste food accounts for almost a fifth (19 per cent) of domestic waste. Cooked food is more likely to be thrown away than raw ingredients.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the most common uncooked food to be discarded, followed by bread and cakes.
The main reasons behind the waste include buying too much through unplanned shopping, poor storage and not eating short shelf life items quickly enough.
By 2015, local authorities will have to recycle or compost a third of household waste.
If these targets are not met, councils face fines of £150 for every tonne of recyclable waste that goes to landfill sites.
Waste has been increasing by 3 per cent a year in recent years and will have doubled from 1995 to 2020 unless action is taken to tackle the problem.
Household recycling in the UK is well behind other European countries such as Norway (where 68 per cent of waste is recycled), Holland (64 per cent) and Germany (57 per cent).
Around 20 per cent of climate change emissions are related to the production, processing, transportation and storage of food, WRAP says.