Food Waste Facts and Statistics

The UK throws away 9.52 million tonnes of food per year

This emits 25 million tonnes of CO2e – more than Kenya’s total annual emissions

40% of food produced globally goes to waste

When people think about reducing their carbon footprint, they often consider switching their car for a bike or utilising renewable energy, such as solar panels – but they typically don't consider reducing food waste.

We produce enough food across the world to wipe out global hunger – but 40% of food goes to waste. That’s 2.5 billion tonnes thrown away each year.

If that food was given to the people who need it, we could give chronically undernourished people 10 meals per day, every day.

The UK has cut down on its food waste in recent years – but we still throw away far too much edible food. Here are the most important food waste facts.

vegetables and fruit appear in a pile of food waste in a landfill

How much food is wasted in the UK annually?

The UK creates 9.52 million tonnes of food waste per year, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

That food waste could fill 190 Royal Albert Halls, and weighs more than 112 million average British men – which far more people than live in the UK, let alone men.

This wasted food is disposed of during the manufacture process, by the retail and hospitality sectors, and by households all over the country.

Households cause 70% of the UK’s food waste, throwing away 6.6 million tonnes of food, of which 4.5 million tonnes is edible.

That's far too much, especially at a time when 68.1% of UK households are worried that increasing energy prices means they won't be able to buy enough food, according to The Food Foundation.

The hospitality sector alone tosses £3.2 billion of food away each year, according to WRAP.

Overall, 6.4 million tonnes of completely edible food is thrown away per year.

That food is enough to create an additional 10.5 billion meals, we’ve extrapolated from WRAP data.

To combat this mountain of waste, researchers are coming up with innovative ways to use surplus food. For example, some experts have designed solar panels by using luminescent particles from fruit and vegetable waste. Check out: The 9 Best Solar Panels in the UK.

an infographic with UK Food Waste facts and Stats


The consumable food we waste costs the UK £19 billion.

That adds up to £284 for every single person in the country.

Households alone got rid of edible food worth £13.8 billion.

If you split that between all of the UK’s 28.1 million households, each home would save £491 per year.

Greenhouse gas emissions

The UK's food waste emits 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) every year, according to WRAP.

That’s 5.5% of our entire national GHG emissions – and more than Kenya, a country of 53 million people – from food that’s simply thrown away.

Considering that this government has set a target for 2030 of reducing GHG levels by 68% of 1990 levels, reducing or even eliminating food waste seems like an obvious step towards that goal.

Household food waste is responsible for 21 million tonnes of GHG – and even if you only count the edible food wasted, it comes to 14 million tonnes.

Eradicating 14 million tonnes would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road, according to government data.

Our food generates a lot of emissions depending on where it's shipped from – also known as food miles. Want to learn more? Head to our page on What Are ‘Food Miles’ And How Can You Reduce Them? 

Or, read our page Are Avocados Bad For The Environment, and find out about the carbon footprint of this popular fruit.

UK food greenhouse gas emissions

What is the most wasted food in the UK?

Potatoes are the most wasted food in the UK, with 1.6 billion thrown away every year, according to WRAP.

The most thrown away food group in the country is fresh vegetables & salad, which makes up 28% of edible food waste.

Edible Food and Drink Waste by Food Group

Top 10 foods that contribute to food waste in the UK

These are the most wasted food types in the country, according to WRAP.

You’ll notice that potatoes are on the list twice, in different forms. Poultry and pork are also present, despite producing a high amount of emissions during their production.

1 kg of poultry and pork emits 6 kg and 7 kg of CO2e respectively.

Top 10 Most Wasted Food and Drink in UK Homes

How much food is wasted in the UK every day?

26,082 tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every day.

That’s 391 grams of food per person, per day, going straight in the bin – but that makes children partly responsible, which doesn’t seem fair.

If we just split the total – and blame – among UK adults, that means we waste 498 grams of food per person, per day – the equivalent of getting rid of a pack of pasta every evening.

a 500g pack of barilla penne pasta

Average food waste per household per day in the UK

Households throw away 1.96kg of food per day, on average.

It’s as if at the end of every day, every member of your household came together, presented the 10 potatoes they’d all gathered, and tossed them in the bin.

It's also the equivalent of eight meals per week, according to WRAP.

As well as being a horrible use of precious resources, this also wastes money.

On an average day, the average household tosses £2 worth of food. Over the course of a year, that adds up to £728.

41% of this food is thrown away because it wasn’t used in time.

28% is wasted due to personal preferences, and another 25% goes in the bin because individuals cooked, prepared, or were served too much food.

Every day, in homes across the nation, we waste food despite the fact that around one in five households suffer from food insecurity, according to The Food Foundation – a 60% rise in just a year.

If you want to do your part, you can fully organise your household's food consumption, and also consider growing your own food, whether you grow food indoors or outdoors. Both these methods will save you money, and reduce waste.

How much supermarket food waste is there in the UK?

The retail sector wastes 277,000 tonnes of food each year – and that figure's rising.

The amount of edible food wasted by the retail sector increased by 3.9% in the most recent figures.

This led to a major supermarket food waste campaign, as companies including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and Aldi signed up to a government-led pledge to halve their food waste by 2030.

This is a welcome step, but since retail food waste makes up just 2.9% of the UK’s total food waste, this pledge won’t make much difference.

Retail Food Waste Stats

How much food is wasted in the world?

2.5 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year across the world, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund and Tesco.

That’s 40% of all food produced for human consumption, and means the average global household wastes 1.5 tonnes of food each year.

It also means more than 5.8 trillion meals are wasted per year – at a total cost of £1.6 trillion, according to data from the United Nation's World Food Programme.

This is especially staggering when you consider that 2.3 billion people are moderately or severely food insecure – 29% of the global population.

If the world’s wasted food was given to all these people, it would provide each person with 2,536 meals per year, which is seven meals per day.

Which country wastes the most food?

China wastes the most food of any country on the planet, casting aside 91.6 million tonnes of food per year, according to the UN's Food Waste Index Report.

The other biggest offenders are, naturally, the countries with the biggest populations, but none of them come close to China.

India is second in the food wastage standings, on 68.8 million tonnes, Nigeria is third back on 37.9 million tonnes, and Pakistan, Brazil, Mexico, US, and Indonesia all waste between 11 and 21 million tonnes.

Which Countries Waste The Most Food Per Year

Which country wastes the most food per capita?

Nigeria wastes the most food per capita, at 189 kg per person, per year.

That works out to more than 37.9 million tonnes of wasted food, every year.

The next most wasteful countries are Rwanda, on 164 kg per person, Greece, on 142 kg per person, and Bahrain, on 132 kg per person.

On the other side of the scale, Russia tops the world rankings for its lack of food waste per person, followed by Slovenia, Austria, India, and Belize.


Food waste in the UK is a problem so large that it’s difficult to conceptualise.

As well as an environmental disaster, the 6.4 million tonnes of edible food we waste every year is also a social catastrophe, considering the 10.5 billion meals this food could have provided to deprived people.

And yet, the UK has improved markedly in recent years. Since 2007, we’ve cut household food waste by 20.5%, and overall food waste by 18.6%.

We’re now ranked eleventh for combating food waste in the global Food Sustainability Index, ahead of other wealthy nations like Spain, Australia, and Japan – showing that this issue can be tackled quickly and effectively.

If the UK and the world work to reduce our collective 2.5 billion tonnes of waste, we could eliminate global hunger – and soon.

Written by:
josh jackman
Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio.
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