1. How much waste do we produce in Ireland each year?
The average waste generated by each Irish person is about 280 kilos each year. This is the same weight as 280 kilo bags of sugar, or three well fed sportsmen. This 280 kilos of waste is made up of organics (mainly food), recyclables (plastics, cardboard, paper, metals and glass) and general wastes.
2. So how much food waste do we produce each year?
Just over 1/3 of the waste we produce is due to organic materials. This is made up of mainly food wastes (31%) and garden waste (only about 6%). Each of us throws away roughly 100 kilos of organics each year which is the same weight as a chunky rugby player (or 100 kilo bags of sugar).
3. And what is it we are throwing out?
Everyone is different so it is hard to say for sure. As there are no exact figures yet available for Ireland, the best comparison is with England where WRAP have done a lot of looking at household food waste. Here are some of the things they have found:
- 1/3 of all food bought is thrown out
- The main food wastes are potatos, bread, apples and meat and fish
- 1/2 of all salads bought are thrown out
- 1/3 of all bread bought is thrown out
- 1/4 of all fruit bought is thrown out
4. How much money is this costing?
Well that depends on how much money you spend on food and whether you waste a lot or not. For some households it can cost well over €1000 each year but the average is closer to €700. But this is only for the actual cost of food and doesn’t take into account the cost of waste disposal or the extra traveling that you have to do.
5. I now know what is being thrown out, but why are we throwing all this food out?
Even people who think they are doing very well with food management still waste a lot. Sometimes it can’t be helped but it is interesting to look at why food is thrown in the bin. The main reasons people give for throwing food out are:
- Left on the plate
- Passed its date
- Looked, smelt or tasted bad
- Left over from cooking
6. How can I stop all this waste?
The first thing to remember is that every household is different. Some households have kids that won’t eat all their dinner, some have dogs that love the scraps and others are apartments with limited fridge/freezer space. But every household has options to reduce their food waste and save money at the same time. The first thing you need to do is check what you are actually throwing out on a regular basis. For a couple of weeks make a rough list of the food you throw out. Then use this to change how you manage your food.
7. Manage my food - what do you mean?
Well, if you think about it there is a whole process involved in getting food into your belly. It starts at home before you go shopping when you are planning your meals, then continues when you go shopping, after that when you go home to store your food and finally when you are cooking and using your food. Each step in this process presents you opportunities to improve your management of food. This whole process is often called from Plough to plate.
8. Where is the information about each of these on this website?
We deal with each of these main steps in this website and there are plenty of options to reduce the food you waste. If you click on the following links you will be brought to the relevant pages:
9. But surely, there will always be food waste?
This of course is true but the challenge is to reduce it as much as you can. This means you will have more money in your pocket but also, the environmental impacts from all the food production, transportation and dumping of waste food will be less. So, at the end if you still have waste food try composting it. There are ways to compost for everyone and people that compost have been found to waste less food - this is because people are aware of the food they are throwing out. Check out the composting section of this website for more information on composting.