About 22 million tonnes of food is wasted on a yearly basis in the EU, with the UK wasting the most, according to a study by European Commission-backed researchers.
The study, published on Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, used data from six national studies to determine the water and nitrogen resources lost in the EU because of consumer food waste.
The study used data from Britain, The Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Romania.
Food waste harms climate, water, land and biodiversity.
80% of food waste is avoidable
Of the roughly 22 million tonnes of food wasted per year in the European Union, researchers determined that almost 80 percent is avoidable.
Why is food being wasted?
A lot of food is wasted because of consumers preparing too much, while million of tonnes of food is wasted because of passing the sell by date.
As a result, most of the avoidable food waste was vegetables, fruit and cereals – because of their shorter shelf-life.
“In some ways it’s good that this waste is ‘avoidable’,” Davy Vanham, a lead author on the paper, commented. “Because it means we’re able to do something about it.”
But meat is also being wasted and it contributes more to lost nitrogen and water resources.
“Meat production uses much more resources in the first place,” continues Vanham. “So even a little bit of waste can have a big effect in terms of lost resources.
”Education in schools would be valuable–and the food production industry is quite cautious–a lot of food is still ‘good’ but is thrown away when it passes its sell-by date.”
The researchers also found that there is less food waste in areas that have less money.
According to Vanham, the research team only studied six of the 28 EU member states properly as data from other countries in the EU were not as reliable.