February 11, 2021

How to reduce your food waste

Approx 370 words.

Did you know each UK household throws away on average £500 worth of perfectly good food each year? That amounts to some 4.5m tonnes {1} in total!

Not only is it a waste of money, it’s also bad for the environment, because food that goes to landfill releases climate-changing methane gasses as it decomposes. 

Reduce your household’s food waste by following these simple steps:  

Shop smart

Make it a habit to never go shopping without a list, even if it’s just for a few things. This way, you’ll be less tempted to purchase things you don’t need (which are more likely to end up in the bin). Try using an app or a notepad to build up your list throughout the week, or download our handy food planner (PDF).

Another easy trick is to make your food go further by anticipating leftover ingredients – for instance, if your veggie lasagne only needs half a pack of mushrooms, plan another mushroom dish for later in the week. Check out the Love your leftovers section in our Food magazine for inspiration, or browse our recipes

Don’t let it go off 

Avoid throwing away food that’s out of date by checking the Use By date, and make a note to use it up by that time. Don’t underestimate the power of your freezer either, particularly if you buy in bulk. A surprising number of foods can be frozen and defrosted for later use, from mince to milk and even vegetables like broccoli and onions.

Shop at Co-op

We hate food waste, which is one of the reasons for our Food Share initiative, where instead of letting good food go off, we give it to local community groups. We’ve also been donating surplus fruit, veg and more to those in need via FareShare since 2013, making a shop with Co-op the greener choice.

Compost your leftovers

Composting old food is one of the simplest, most affordable ways of preventing it from going to landfill. If composting levels worldwide increased, it’s estimated we could reduce emissions by a staggering 2.1 billion tonnes by 2050{2}.

Many local councils in the UK now collect food waste for composting as part of your rubbish collection, or offer subsidised composting bins so you can do it yourself.

Iain Ferguson
Environment Manager

{1} https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/24/uk-households-waste-45m-tonnes-of-food-each-year
{2} https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200224-how-cutting-your-food-waste-can-help-the-climate

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. What about Nisa? It’s a real shame they don’t use the Too Good To Go app. Spar have put all their stores in our area on it now, saving food waste but also helping to remind people on the app where all their Spar shops are located.

  2. An environmental manager? What is his remuneration package? Perhaps this expenditure would be better spent addressing staffing and in store security issues?

    Food waste is negligible in comparison to the pollution caused by your HGV fleet.

  3. A really poor messaging attempt at reducing waste. Single use plastic and micro plastics are the real issue, is the CoOp going to address this or continue to finance the Labour Party?

  4. The Co-op would seem to be doing more than most to reduce food waste by (presumably, where it is viable) re-distributing it to those in need. For, whilst UK households DO waste an awful lot of food, it is a drop in the ocean compared with the amount left on supermarket shelves that has not been sold by it`s use by or best before date. The introduction of such dates (just when was that brought in?) has proved both a blessing and a curse. Sadly, because a lot of people take such dates far too literally and end up throwing perfect;y good food away. I bet that makes up a large percentage of the food that is wasted. Whatever happened to common sense in these matters? In this household, we are proud of the fact that nearly all the “food” that is in our food waste bin consists of peelings, egg shells etc etc and it really is a big deal when actual food has to be thrown. If you find that you are throwing half your pizza away, for instance, then buy a smaller pizza for goodness sake.

  5. I had two e’mails from Supermarkets this morning. Firstly , The CO OP mail which I found useful and interesting. Second, XXXXXXX indicating anything YYYYYY can do I can do better.
    What they meant by that is “ If you wish for a price war we are ready”. Driving prices down and down is not the correct route. The outcome of such a policy is a damaged environment, wasted food and bankrupt farmers! Food production should enable Farmers profit, Environment enhancement and QUALITY/HEALTHY FOOD at acceptable prices to include an Environment Tax. Maybe this TAX will not go down well but the proceeds should be channelled back into environmental reinstatement of a degraded Environ!


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