Juliette Kellow, Registered Dietitian and member of the British Dietetic Association

By Juliette Kellow, Registered Dietitian

In the final part of our sustainable kitchen mini blog series, Juliette Kellow explores the importance of cutting down on food waste…

Though the UK is getting better at wasting less food, latest figures from The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) reveal households still bin 4.5 million tonnes of edible food in a year – a quantity to fill 38 million large wheelie bins or almost half a million bin lorries! Eating this food rather than throwing it away puts nutrients in bodies rather than the bin and would save a typical family with children around £60 a month. But it would also be far better for the environment. Once in landfill, bacteria break down food, releasing methane, a climate-changing greenhouse gas. WRAP estimates keeping that food out of landfill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 2.4 million cars off the road for a year.

Helping clients identify the foods they most commonly throw away is a good starting point for helping clients reduce food waste (the foods most commonly wasted are potatoes, bread, milk, homemade and pre-prepared meals, fizzy drinks, fruit juice, smoothies, pork, ham, bacon, poultry and carrots). Many households also underestimate the amount of food they bin. For example, one study found a ten-fold discrepancy between what consumers thought they wasted, compared with what they actual threw away. Advice to keep a food waste diary (find a template here) or to take photos of every food or drink thrown away will help raise awareness of the amount and types of food put in the bin.

Giving storage advice, helping clients understand date labels and providing tips for using up leftovers can be useful. Helpful information for consumers can be found at Love Food Hate Waste and the Food Standards Agency. Highlighting the financial benefits may also resonate with clients, especially with the rising cost of living. Numerous studies suggest saving money is a stronger motivation for minimising food waste than environmental concerns.

Statistics from WRAP show each day, UK homes throw away approximately…

  • 20 million whole slices of bread (equivalent to 1 million loaves)
  • 4.4 million potatoes
  • 3.1 million glasses of milk
  • 2.7 million carrots
  • 2.2 million slices of ham
  • 1.2 million tomatoes
  • 970,000 onions
  • 920,000 bananas
  • 800,000 apples
  • 720,000 oranges

Finally, it’s also important to encourage clients to recycle packaging. Latest figures from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) suggest less than half (45%) of waste from UK households is recycled and more than a third (37%) of packaging waste isn’t recycled. Understand recycling rules in the local area is the first step – different parts of the country have different rules on what can, and can’t, be recycled so encourage clients to look online for local council advice. There’s also useful consumer information on the Recycle Now website.

We hope you enjoyed this mini blog series… please do let us know in the comments below and let us know what top tips you’ve taken from the blogs.

This blog was peer reviewed by the MyNutriWeb Nutrition and Dietetic team 20/09/2023.


A Sustainable Kitchen – Keeping Food Cool

A Sustainable Kitchen – Prepping Food

A Sustainable Kitchen – Climate Friendly Cooking

A Sustainable Kitchen – The Kitchen Clean Up

Sustainable Diets: Key Updates