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Crunching The Numbers

Got a little too much on your plate? Lots of us in the UK do, with a large amount of the food we buy ending up in the bin. Whether you’ve cooked too much, or you’ve had a long day at work and opted for a takeaway instead of your about-to-go-off-tomorrow dinner plans – you’re not alone.

Everything we throw away has an impact on our environment and contributes to climate change. Because it’s not just the food we’re wasting – it’s the resources that go into producing it that get wasted too.

Habits can be hard to change, but if each of us made a small change to the way we buy and use food, – eating that last slice of bread, or freezing that brown banana  – we can change the amount we waste and all have a big impact, together. Each small act can add up to make a big difference. Check these facts on what’s really going into what’s on (or off) your plate, and how you can lessen the effects of climate change.


70% of wasted food comes from our homes

Yup. That’s right. It’s on us. Each year, UK households throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food that could be eaten, with some of the most common products being milk, bread, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas and poultry. If every person stopped throwing away food for just one day in the UK, it’d do the same for climate change taking 14,000 cars off the road for a whole year.

How Can I Waste Less?


Fancy saving £700 a year?

There are a lot of things you could do with £700. And by reducing the amount of food we each throw away, this is the average estimated amount of money we could be saving. Save your food from the bin with handy hacks that’ll preserve your food, giving you more time to eat it and less money spent on replacing it.

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318,000 tonnes of CO2e

This is the amount of CO2e generated each year from the amount of bread we throw away. Binning 20 million slices a day, means that 205,000 hectares of land is unnecessarily used each year to grow the crops to produce it. If we stopped wasting bread alone – one slice at a time, one day at a time - it’d have the same impact on climate change as planting 5.3 million trees.

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1.8 million trees

In the UK we waste 1.2 million tomatoes a day, which generates 113,000 tonnes of CO2e through the labour that goes into the seeding, the watering, the fertilisers, the harvesting, and transporting too. Over a year saving your tomatoes and the valuable resources that have gone into producing them would do the same for climate change as planting 1.8 million trees. Huge.

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31,000 hectares of land

We throw away the equivalent of 3.1 million glasses worth of milk a day - it can be from putting too much in our cereal or that unfinished cup of tea. It takes 358 million m3 of water to produce this milk, and 31,000 hectares of land used for production is also wasted. If we only bought the milk we needed, or always used every drop of the milk we bought, every year we could do the same for climate change as planting 5.9 million trees.

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900 million litres of water

We waste 920,000 bananas every day from our homes. If every person in the UK stopped throwing away bananas for just one day, we could save the nearly 900 million litres of water used to grow, harvest, and transport them from also going to waste. Each year it could do the same for climate change as planting 790,000 trees.

How To Waste Less


101,000 tonnes of poultry binned

That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Every year, UK households throw away poultry that could have been eaten, and in throwing it away we are also wasting a land area the size of East Sussex needed to grow it. If we all stopped wasting poultry, by storing it properly or eating our leftovers, we could prevent the 396,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions created in its production.

Small Actions For Big Impact


We abandon 4.4 million potatoes every day

And that adds up to 714,000 tonnes of potatoes wasted every year in our homes. These abandoned potatoes, whether it’s a whole potato, potato peel, or leftover mash, add up to generate 326,000 tonnes of CO2e every year too, thanks to all the energy and resources that go into growing them and getting them to your home. Without these wasted potatoes, we could have the same impact as planting 5.4 million trees every year.

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For water use For individual food waste tonnages For total food waste tonnages

For carbon factors excluding milk: Clune, Stephen & Verghese, Karli & Crossin, Enda. (2016). Systematic review of greenhouse gas emissions for different fresh food categories. Journal of Cleaner Production. in press.

For milk carbon factor For tree CO2e Other