Accounting for Food Waste: comparative analysis within the UK

Bradley, P.; Thomas, C.; Druckman, A. and Jackson, T. (2009). Accounting for Food Waste: comparative analysis within the UK. Proceedings of the ICE - Waste and Resources Management, 162(1) pp. 5–13.



Meeting UK ambitions for reducing waste will require careful planning and informed investment in infrastructure. An essential pre-requisite for both is the availability of robust waste data. This paper compares four methods for estimating food waste in Hampshire, two for businesses and two for households. Firstly, household food waste is estimated from food expenditure data using an expenditure data approach. This is compared against household waste collection data. Next, business waste is estimated by applying Defra published data from the Environment Agency Commercial and Industrial Waste Survey (2002) to the business profile of the hospitality sector in Hampshire. These results are compared with those from the application of a different survey approach to the same business profile.

The research illustrates significant problems in achieving consistent and reliable data, especially for business. It was found that the Environment Agency 2002 survey published data are very likely to underestimate food waste in the Hospitality sector due to the amount of waste that the survey classifies in miscellaneous categories such as mixed or general waste. The findings could apply to other sectors. The paper discusses the implications of these findings, highlighting, in particular an urgent need for the release and publication of current C&I waste data, as well as more robust sector-specific surveys and consistent accounting frameworks.

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