Essex residents urged to take action on food waste

Residents are being urged to do everything they can to cut down on avoidable food waste, following a report which shows UK households are throwing away £60 worth of food a month.

The new report from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) shows that avoidable household food waste has been cut by 21 per cent since 2007, however UK households are still throwing away 4.2 million tonnes of household food and annually; the equivalent of six meals every week for the average UK household.

Unavoidable food waste can be composted in Essex through kerbside waste collections or home composting. Wwasted food that gets put in black bag collections goes to landfill, which has a serious impact on the environment.

As the food waste rots it creates a harmful greenhouse gas – methane – which damages the Earth’s atmosphere and contributes to climate change.

County councillor Roger Walters, cabinet member for waste and recycling, said: “This report shows just how important it is to reduce the amount of food we throw away. While there is some encouraging news about the reduction in food waste since 2007, there is still a lot of work to do.

“Some food waste is unavoidable, and we need to ensure it gets recycled in our kerbside collections or composted. Food that does not get recycled causes serious damage to the environment and costs us all money. Last year we spent £19.56m on landfill tax alone in Essex, so we all need to keep reducing our waste and recycle, compost and reuse as much as we can.”

Here’s some simple steps to help residents make the most of food and prevent it from going to waste:

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• It pays to plan – check what’s in the cupboard, fridge and freezer, plan your meals and know what you’re going to buy before you go shopping

• Know your dates – check the dates on food regularly, use foods with the shortest date first, and freeze foods you won’t get round to eating in time. Food with a ‘use by’ date can be eaten up to the end of that date, but not after; ‘best before’ dates refer to quality, rather than food safety

• Savvy Storage – most leftovers will keep for up to two days in the fridge well wrapped, most fruit and veg will stay fresher for longer stored in the fridge, and wrap well or store in air-tight containers fresh foods once opened

• Perfect portions – Measuring portion sizes helps us to avoid cooking, and preparing too much food

• Lovely leftovers – be creative with using up leftovers. For more inspiration visit

For more details on the WRAP report, click on the link at the top right of this story.