Knowledge for better food systems

The water and carbon footprint of household food and drink waste in the UK

Chapagain A and James K (2011). The water and carbon footprint of household food and drink waste in the UK, WWF-UK and Waste Resources Action Programme.
Chapagain A and James K (2011). The water and carbon footprint of household food and drink waste in the UK, WWF-UK and Waste Resources Action Programme. This report by WRAP and WWF finds that, for the UK, the water footprint of avoidable food waste is 6,200 million cubic metres per year, representing nearly 6% of all our water requirements. In per capita terms, this is 243 litres per person per day, approximately one and a half times the daily average household water use in the UK. A quarter of this water footprint represents water used to grow and process food here in the UK, i.e. water from the UK's rivers, lakes and aquifers. It is estimated that avoidable food waste is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions of 20 million tonnes CO2 equivalent per year, accounting for the whole life cycle. Avoidable food waste represents approximately 3% of the UK's domestic greenhouse gas emissions, with further emissions from overseas components of the supply chain. In contrast to the water footprint, approximately two thirds of emissions associated with food waste occur within the UK. These emissions are equivalent to those produced by over 7 million cars per year. The most significant contributors to avoidable carbon emissions are milk waste, coffee waste and wheat products (bread, cake etc.). The research also suggests that for some food and drink items, indirect emissions associated with land use change caused by levels of demand for those items are greater than direct emissions.
 

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