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A report on the findings of a research project to better understand the nature and types of food waste in schools; the reasons why food is wasted in schools and the impact of interventions developed to help schools to reduce this waste.

Why is food waste from schools an important issue?

In 2007/08, WRAP produced a report into the types and quantities of waste produced by schools in England. A key finding was that food waste was a major component of waste from schools, estimated to account for almost half of the waste, by weight, from primary schools in England and almost a third of waste, by weight, from secondary schools in England.

Food waste can be seen as a particularly significant issue because, when food is wasted in schools:

  • the embedded energy from growing, transporting, storing and preparing food is also wasted;
  • the money spent on buying and preparing the food is wasted and costs are incurred in treating and disposing of it; and
  • perhaps most importantly in the context of schools, children are not gaining the nutritional benefit of the wasted food.

Therefore, in order to identify what could be done to reduce food waste in schools, WRAP commissioned this study to better understand the composition of the food waste and the behaviours and practices which lead to it being wasted.

However, food waste is not the only issue to be considered in any study of food in schools – health and nutrition are arguably even more important, although they were not the focus of this study. This should be borne in mind when considering possible solutions to food waste; approaches will not be desirable if they impact negatively on health and nutrition, regardless of any benefit on reducing food waste.

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  • WRAP-food-waste-in-schools.pdf

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