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ReFood brings Christmas food waste into perspective


  • Wasted Christmas Sprouts Could Power a Home for 3 years
  • Energy required to power home for 57 years thrown away annually
  • Food waste recycler reveals energy potential of wasted dinners

More than a third of the sprouts produced in the UK are harvested for the Christmas period[1], but despite this, a quarter of the population claim to ‘hate’ the vegetable[2]. This year, we’re highlighting the issue of food waste over the festive period, by revealing the energy equivalent of Christmas food waste. 

(Selected) Food Predicted Waste[3] Energy equivalent[4] Years energy usage[5]
Turkey 1,315 tonnes 394,500kWh 23.6
Sprouts 172 tonnes 51,600kWh 3
Roast Potatoes 848 tonnes 254,400kWh 15.2
Mince pies 375 tonnes 112,300kWh 6.7
Christmas pudding portions 72 tonnes 21,600kWh 1.3

If all the wasted food at Christmas was recycled into energy (rather than sent to landfill), via a process called Anaerobic Digestion (AD), we could power the average medium sized home for 57 years[6]. That’s the message the we’re keen to get across this year, combining research from several sources to raise awareness of the issue.
AD turns food waste into energy, by breaking food down into natural biogas. This can then be turned into energy to power homes, factories and offices. Despite the technology being well-established, around six millions of tonnes of waste food is still sent to landfill every year[7], causing a significant environmental impact.
Philip Simpson, Commercial Director of ReFood said: “Sprouts are often derided for their gas-producing qualities, but in this case, that could actually be a good thing. Christmas is a time for families coming together, and enjoyment, but over the years, it’s also become a time of waste. These statistics highlight the problem we have in the UK, around wasted food. Obviously the first priority is to eliminate waste, and address the needs of food charities. But when that’s not possible, we need to have a more sustainable attitude to dealing with this waste problem.”
“Some businesses still don’t realise that sending food waste to landfill, not only impacts the environment, but is also costly and outdated. The cost of sending food waste to landfill can be 46% higher, than disposing of it via AD.”
In 2016, several high-profile initiatives have been launched to address the UK’s food waste problem, with endorsements from celebrities, such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, organisations, such as WRAP, and from Government.

Statistic sources
One tonne of food waste can create 300kWh of energy
Source: Biogas Info
 The average ‘medium’ sized house uses a total of 16,700kWh of energy p/a.
Source: Ovo
[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/19-things-might-not-know-brussels-sprouts/
[2] http://metro.co.uk/2014/08/21/new-survey-reveals-10-popular-foods-british-people-secretly-hate-4840167/
[3] Estimated wastage – Unliver 2014 http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas/food-drink/over-4-million-christmas-dinners-are-thrown-away-each-year-a6757211.html
[4] One tonne of food waste can create 300kWh of energy
[5] The average ‘medium’ sized house uses a total of 16,700kWh of energy p/a.
[6] Assuming a modest portion size of 750g, and 4.2m dinners estimated to be thrown away annually (Unilever), 3,150tonnes of Christmas dinner is thrown away every year, equating to around 945,000kWh of energy
[7] http://www.vision2020.info/about/
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