Intended for healthcare professionals


Down with food waste

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 22 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1380
  1. Jennie I Macdiarmid, senior research fellow1,
  2. Tim Lang, professor of food policy2,
  3. Andy Haines, professor of public health and primary care3
  1. 1Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, UK
  2. 2Centre for Food Policy, City University London, UK
  3. 3Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
  4. Correspondence to: A Haines

UK parliament should debate the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill

Future food security depends on creating a sustainable food system that can provide healthy affordable diets for a growing population while minimising environmental damage. Multiple actions are needed to achieve this, including reducing the vast amount of food wasted every year. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that a third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted.1

The environmental impact of producing food is enormous, so waste contributes needlessly to climate change, loss of biodiversity, nitrogen and phosphorus loading, and use of scarce agricultural land and limited freshwater resources.2 Global food waste accounts for 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In high income countries, such as the United Kingdom, most food waste occurs downstream in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and households. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that in 2012 UK households threw away 4.2 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten, about 12% of food …

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