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How much food waste do we produce at Christmas in the UK? What ways can we reduce food waste at Christmas?
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It is difficult to estimate the exact quantity of food wasted at Christmas. One estimate suggests that 54 million platefuls of food are thrown away in the UK each Christmas (OECD, 2019). ReFood, a food waste recycler, provides other estimates of food waste by weight. It also provides an estimate of energy equivalent if this food waste was converted into bioenergy. The energy usage is based on the average medium sized house:

  • Turkey = 1,315 tonnes (23.6 years energy usage)
  • Roast potatoes = 848 tonnes (15.2 years energy usage)
  • Mince pies = 375 tonnes (6.7 years energy usage)
  • Brussels Sprouts = 172 tonnes (3 years energy usage)
  • Christmas pudding = 72 tonnes (1.3 years energy usage)

That means wasted brussels sprouts in the UK alone could power a medium sized house for 3 years! In total, all food waste in the UK during one Christmas alone could produce enough energy to power a house for 49.8 years. 


Food waste is responsible for 6% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (Ritchie, 2020). Although, this figure does not include food losses from farm production and harvesting. Therefore, greenhouse gas emissions from food waste may be even higher. Given this, making efforts to reduce food waste at Christmas is an excellent way to reduce individual carbon emissions. For example, it is estimated  7 kg of CO2 per person could be saved by opting for a low-waste diet at Christmas. For suggestions and tips on reducing your food waste this Christmas, see: What can I do with food leftovers?, What are some ways to ‘compleat’ to avoid food waste?, How to get the most out of food, to reduce waste?   



Haq, G., Owen, A., Dawkins, E. and Barrett, J., (2007). The carbon cost of Christmas. Stockholm Environment Institute: Stockholm, Sweden.

OECD. (2019). What is the environmental footprint of Christmas? Available at: <https://oecd-environment-focus.blog/2019/12/24/what-is-the-environmental-footprint-of-christmas/#:~:text=The%20Carbon%20Trust%20reports%20that,16kg%20of%20CO2e.> (Accessed: 27 November 2020). 

ReFood. (2016). ReFood brings Christmas food waste into perspective. Available at: <https://refood.co.uk/christmas-food-waste/?fbclid=IwAR1Y5ejx4GjwDhYAxRLvWdEcAkGBBC3Jiyx20j9PCUkcJ9YcrwPUlw4WYwY#_ftn7> (Accessed: 27 November 2020). 

Ricthie, H. (2020). Our World in Data: Food Waste Emissions. Available at: <https://ourworldindata.org/food-waste-emissions> (Accessed: 27 November 2020). 

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