Ground-breaking research into the relationship between plastic packaging and five fruit and vegetable items frequently wasted at home, as well as the impact of date labels and storage temperatures, reveals significant opportunities to reduce both food waste and plastic packaging.

Unpacking the opportunity

Food waste feeds climate change: Globally up to 40% of food produced ends up as waste, representing 8–10% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the UK, 70% of post-farm gate food waste comes from the home.

By industry taking up WRAP's three recommendations a staggering 14,000,000 shopping baskets full of food waste could be saved along with 1,110 truck loads of plastic. 

Recommendations for industry

Using new insights and building on existing evidence, summarised in this work, WRAP recommends the following actions for food retailers and their suppliers, to support citizens and reduce the amount of uncut fresh produce and single use plastic packaging that gets thrown away in our homes. 

Three recommendations for industry: Sell loose, remove date labels and provide best practice guidance on storage (at home, store below 5°C).

The research

  • Eliminating problem plastics

    Eliminating problem plastics under The UK Plastics Pact

    Building on the eight problem plastics identified for elimination in 2019, six new plastic items and materials have been set for elimination.

  • Woman in mask shops for fruit and veg sold without packaging

    Reducing household food waste & plastic packaging – Evidence and Insights

    A detailed report giving the reader a more technical level of detail on the research undertaken and the findings.

  • Fruit and veg being sold without packaging in supermarket

    Reducing household food waste & plastic packaging – Summary

    An overview of the potential impacts, background to research undertaken and resulting recommended action for retailers.

Further technical research which underpins the recommendations:

  • Technical Consumer Research Report - An investigation, via an online summary, of the influence of date labels on disposal choice and determining if there was any impact of plastic packaging on these choices.

  • Technical Laboratory Research Report - This report details laboratory testing of the effects on product life of storing these foods packaged or loose, and at different temperatures.

  • Technical Modelling Report - Modelling of the impact of changes when selling fresh produce loose rather than packed.

Read the three technical reports

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  • Summary report - Reducing household food waste and plastic packaging

    PDF, 1.35 MB

  • Evidence and insights - Reducing household food waste and plastic packaging

    PDF, 4.11 MB