This report describes analysis of compositional data and WasteDataFlow information to produce estimates of food in local authority collected waste streams from UK homes in 2021 and tracks trends over time.

Food waste collected from households by LAs – whether for recycling, or as part of the residual waste stream – makes up around 80% of the total food thrown away by households, with the remaining going down the sink or home composted. Therefore, LA collected food waste provides a way of tracking household food waste trends over time. WRAP have also updated estimates for the amount of home composted and sewer waste, the detail of the types of food wasted in homes and reasons for disposal are in a separate report: Household Food and Drink Waste in the United Kingdom 2021/22.

2021 UK estimates for local authority collected food waste are presented in this report which use the same methodology as for previous UK estimates, therefore allowing an assessment of the changes over time. These results have been compared with estimates from previous years which have also been published by WRAP e.g. 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2015, 2017 & 2018.

Key findings

  • The estimated amount of household food waste collected by LAs in the UK in 2021 was 5.25 million tonnes. This is equivalent to 186.1 kg per household or 78.4 kg per person.
  • The vast majority of this food waste (4.1 million tonnes; 79% of the total) was found in the kerbside residual waste stream, with most of the rest (0.89 million tonnes; 17% of the total) in kerbside collections targeting food waste.
  • Compared to 2007, there has been a reduction of 17% in the food waste collected by local authorities per capita. However, the 2021 estimate is significantly higher than that for 2018, with a 13% per capita increase.
  • The capture rate – the proportion of LA-collected household food waste found in collections targeting food waste – increased between 2007 and 2021 from around 2% to 17%. Between 2018 and 2021, capture rate for household food waste remained the same.

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  • Synthesis of Household Food Waste Compositional Data 2021

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