Retailers have been urged to do more to cut water use and household food waste following the publication of a major new report.

More than six million cubic metres of water are used to produce food that is thrown away – nearly double the UK’s annual household water usage.

A report by WRAP and the WWF found 6% of the UK’s water requirements come from making the 5.3 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten but is thrown away. That food also represents 3% of the UK’s domestic greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Retailers have been urged to make clear to consumers which foods have a high environmental impact and improve their use of natural resources through changes to their supply chain.

“One of the Courtauld Commitment targets – which all the major grocery retailers and many manufacturers and brands support – is to reduce household and food and drink waste by 4% and signatories are already working hard to achieve that target,” said WRAP retail head Andy Dawe.

“A number of supermarkets run their own consumer-facing campaigns in line with out Love Food, Hate Waste initiative.”

Dr David Tickner, head of freshwater programmes at WWF-UK, added: “Responsibility for improving the way in which water is managed lies primarily with government and other stakeholders in affected river basins.

“But companies, policy makers and consumers in the UK can help. Put simply, wasting less food, in a small but very significant way, helps dry rivers to flow again.”

Read more
Saturday Essay: Taking our sustainability goals to a new level (11 December 2010)
IGD guide to help trade beat ‘water crunch’ (20 October 2010)
Are you ready for a future without water? (analysis; 25 September 2010)