Food Waste is robbing you blind: freeze your food before its use-by date to save money and reduce global greenhouse emissions

Date released: Nov 17 2020

  •   Food waste is costing Irish households up to €700 per year, and 68% say that food passing its use-by date is the main reason we throw out food.
  • Latest EPA survey reports that only 10% of people rate themselves as good at keeping track of food in the fridge.
  • EPA campaign highlights that freezing is a simple, effective way to manage surplus food and reduce waste.

17 November 2020: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new campaign to encourage people to take a simple action to reduce food waste, by freezing surplus food before its use-by date.

A recent EPA survey, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, found that 68 per cent of people still say ‘passing use-by dates’ is the top reason they throw out food at home. It found that 75 per cent of the population understand that use-by dates are a deadline, and over 80 per ceFreeze food waste image nt check them to ensure food is still safe to eat. The EPA suggest that freezing food is an easy way to stop wasting food and save money. Food waste currently costs the average Irish household up to €700 per year.

 

Freezing surplus food before it passes the use-by date can help both the environment and your budget, according to Mary Frances Rochford, Programme Manager in the Office of Environmental Sustainability:

“We are calling on everyone to support and share our Eat It or Freeze It campaign on social media, and take a simple action to stop food waste. Irish households produce over 250,000 tonnes of food waste per year, at a cost of €700 per household. In addition, wasted food is a significant contributor to climate change – responsible for about 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting food waste reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also provides real savings householders.”

Environmental Scientist at the EPA, Odile Le Bolloch, explains:

“If you don’t get to eat it, freezing food is an action we can start straight away. Over half of people do not realise that you can freeze food right up to its use-by date, but many of us can reduce our food waste through freezing. It is a great way to make food last longer – it acts just like a pause button, allowing food to be eaten at another time.”

Food waste robber

A lot of different types of foods can be frozen, whether it’s the extra loaf of bread you bought or the cooked pasta you want to use for lunch later in the week. The survey showed that bread is one of the most wasted foods in Ireland, and when it comes to freezing it is the most versatile - the whole loaf can be frozen when you buy it, or just the last few slices at the end of the bag. You can find out how to freeze all of your favourite foods, learn about food date marking, and access resources to help reduce food waste in the home by visiting the Stop Food Waste website at https://stopfoodwaste.ie/.

EPA Environmental Scientist Odile le Bolloch is available for interview on request.
Further information: Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office: 053-91 70770 (24 hours) and media@epa.ie

Notes to editor:

Hi-resolution versions of the images above are available on request from the EPA media office.

Stop Food Waste

Stop Food Waste is Ireland’s national food waste prevention programme. It provides simple tips to help householders manage food in the home and reduce waste through social media across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The user-friendly website provides great tools and information to help with making the most of food. The EPA is calling on householders to follow the ‘Eat it or Freeze it’ campaign on social media and to take actions to stop food waste.

Website: http://www.epa.ie/and http://stopfoodwaste.ie
Facebook: @StopFoodWaste
Instagram: @stopfoodwaste.ie
Twitter: @Stop_Food_Waste

Survey

Results presented are from an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults ages 16+ on attitudes towards food waste and food management behaviours at home. The survey was carried out between 4th and 14th September 2020 by Behaviour & Attitudes Limited, Ireland's largest independent market research company. Topics covered included concerns about food waste, managing food at home, impact of Covid lockdown restrictions and food dates.

  • About 3 in 4 people say they understand that use-by refers to safety and they should not eat food past the use-by date. 
  • Over 80% of people say they check food dates on products when both shopping for food and preparing meals.
  • 53% of people don’t realise they can freeze food right up to its use-by date.

The EPA compiles national data on waste generation and treatment in Ireland through direct survey of industry and waste facilities, and in cooperation with other public authorities. Current estimates indicate that Ireland generated approximately 1.05 million tonnes of food waste in 2018. About half of this came from the processing and manufacturing sector, with the remainder arising from households (252,500 tonnes per year) and the commercial sector including restaurants/food service and retail/distribution (203,300 tonnes per year). National statistics for individual waste streams are on the EPA website: www.epa.ie/nationalwastestatistics/.