Environmental impact of food waste

Food waste is not only damaging to your pocket. It's a terrible waste that has serious environmental consequences.


Producing, distributing, storing and cooking food uses energy, fuel and water. Each of these emits greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

Think of a pack of cheese. All the resources that go into raising the cows, processing the milk, transporting the cheese, refrigeration, the fuel we use to drive to the shop to buy it - all this to put it in the bin at the end of the week. In the UK we throw away the equivalent of more than three million slices of cheese a day!

Food requires a lot of water to grow and produce it. By wasting food we are wasting precious water supplies. It takes:

  • 100 buckets of water to produce just one loaf of bread
  • 54 buckets of water to produce one chicken breast
  • six buckets of water to produce one potato
  • one bucket of water to produce one tomato.

It's also worth considering the amount of land required to produce food and drink. The estimated area of land required to produce food thrown away by UK households is 19,000 square kilometres, that's an area seven times the size of Derbyshire!

Wasted food will most likely end up in a landfill site, where, rather than harmlessly decomposing as many people think, it rots and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

If we stopped throwing this good food away it would save the equivalent of at least 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide. That's the environmental equivalent of taking one in five cars off UK roads.