13 Feb 2017 14:27

Results from a recent residents’ survey are helping re3 – the central Berkshire waste management partnership –better understand what causes food waste in Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham.


286 people filled out the questionnaire online. Respondents were given several answer options throughout the survey and were asked to tick as many that they felt applied to them.  26% of respondents felt that they didn’t generally throw away food, and 26% replied that they might bin around 500g a week. This compares to data from research commissioned by re3 last autumn that estimated that a typical household in Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham throws away 2.7kg of food a week. 1.2kg (43%) of this was food that was binned before even being prepared and/or taken out of its packaging. 


The survey suggests that there might be a gap between how people perceive food waste and what actually ends up in the bin. Despite 60% feeling that they wasted leftovers, in a separate question 63% responded that they used leftovers for other meals.


When asked about the types of food wasted, peelings came out top with 66%, but respondents also felt that avoidable food waste was ending up in the bin. In addition to the 60% who said they binned leftovers from a cooked or prepared meal, 43% replied that they threw out raw vegetables and 37% listed both bread and raw fruit as wasted food.


51% try to prevent food waste by buying only what they need and 48% froze food that couldn’t be eaten at the time of purchase. However, 36% felt that food might be wasted in their household because it had been left forgotten in the fridge or cupboard and had gone past the use by date. When asked about what types of food might be being wasted in this way, respondents listed a wide variety of products including sausages, bananas, stir-fry vegetable packs, hummus, jam, herbs, cheese and yoghurts.


re3 has been running free sessions to support residents in making small, simple changes that can help them to waste less food and save money.  Love Food Hate Waste – who are partnering with re3 to provide the training – has calculated that UK householders are throwing away £13 billion of good food and drink every year. They’ve estimated that food waste costs £290 per single person household, £470 per household and £700 per household with children on a yearly basis. By throwing away food, people are paying for it twice – from their grocery bills and through their council tax to pay for its disposal.

Bracknell Forest’s Executive Member for Environment and Chairman of the Joint Waste Disposal Board, Cllr Mrs Dorothy Hayes MBE said: “I attended the first Love Food Hate Waste session and I came away with lots of good, usable tips on how I can waste less food and help others to do the same. Even small changes can make a big difference when you consider there are 182,000 households in the re3 area and they are estimated to be wasting over 2.5 kgs of food each a week. My favourite piece of advice was to freeze milk that is approaching its use by date in individual ice cubes. They can be used later in a cup of tea or coffee; the milk ice cube starts to melt the minute it goes in the hot drink.”

Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Liz Terry said: “The survey results show that there is a disconnect between what people think they waste, and the amount of food that is going in the bin. It’s an easy thing to do; we’ve all binned a stale piece of bread or that last bit of cheese that’s dried out. re3 will use the survey data to help communicate ways in which we can get more out of our food. The Love Food Hate Waste sessions have begun to do that and I look forward to seeing more of them running in the next few months.”

Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive Member for Environment Cllr Angus Ross said: “On behalf of re3, I’d like to thank those residents who took the time to fill out the survey and help us to better understand why, despite our best intentions, we might still contribute to food waste.  The help and advice that is being offered through the Love Food Hate Waste sessions is also being shared on social media, please search for re3 recycling on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.”

More sessions are being planned for the spring. If you live in the re3 area of Bracknell Forest, Reading or Wokingham, and your community group is interested in hosting a session, please contact re3 on 0118 937 3460,, or via Facebook or Twitter @re3recycling.

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