Covid and food waste: do we have reason to be optimistic?

Updated: Apr 12, 2021



Blog by Emma

Sustainable Merton Community Champion & Food Team Leader



Did you know that if global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US? Or, that millions of tonnes of edible food is being thrown away each year whilst at the same time 8.4 million people in the UK alone struggle to get enough to eat?


Surplus food waste is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today but charities like Sustainable Merton is making strides toward combating the issue through initiatives such as their Community Fridges, but it’s a daunting challenge when faced with these statistics.


A year on from the first lockdown, it’s time to assess where we are in our efforts to combat food waste.


We would be forgiven for wanting to draw a line under 2020 and forgetting it ever happened, but amongst the gloomy news, there was the occasional story that lifted our spirits and made us feel hopeful. One such story that inspired me is the shifting attitude households have towards the amount of food that ends up in their bins.


During the UK’s first lockdown a report by Wrap (The Waste and Resource Action Programme) showed that consumers were being more conscientious in their eating habits. Not only were more people planning ahead their weekly meals, but they were generally being more creative with their cooking by using up any leftovers. It led to an incredible 30% reduction in food waste of potatoes, bread, chicken and milk, some of the most wasted food groups.


Admittedly, when lockdown eased over the Summer of 2020 and a degree of norma