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Dublin: 19°C Sunday 14 August 2022

Bread is Ireland’s most wasted food with 41% of people admitting they throw it out

We seemed to be less wasteful with food during lockdown.

Image: Shutterstock/B Brown

A SIGNIFICANT PORTION of the Irish public throw away food on a daily basis as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed we discard 250,000 tonnes worth of food waste every year.

A survey carried out by the EPA showed how food waste is a big concern for Irish families but that many people were able to reduce their waste during lockdown.

 The survey found: 

  • 41% of people admitting to throwing out bread 
  • Main reasons for waste are food passing its use-by date and forgetting to eat leftovers in time
  • After bread; vegetables, fruit and salad are the foods that are thrown out most often in the home
  • During the Covid-19 lockdown, 29% of people reported wasting less food. 

Mary Frances Rochford, programme manager in the Office of Environmental Sustainability said Irish households produce over 250,000 tonnes of food waste per year, at a cost of €700 per household.

In addition, food waste is a significant contributor to climate change – generating about 8 to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Reducing food waste reduces our greenhouse gas emissions and also reduces bills for householders and businesses. Ambitious targets have been set in the new National Waste Policy, for food waste reduction, with the aim of halving food waste by 2030- meeting these targets will require a strong response from every step along the food chain,” she said.


The survey findings also found that during the Covid-19 lockdown, people adopted behaviours that reduce food waste, with a 12% increase in people doing a single weekly shop and a 10% in people doing meal-planning.

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The survey reported that 29% of people threw away less food compared with before the lockdown period and so there is a real opportunity to build on the positive behaviours that emerged to continue to reduce food waste.

Odile Le Bolloch of the EPA added: “Avoiding food waste at home is about changing our behaviours and building good habits. By buying only what we need; planning meals and using leftovers, and storing food properly, we will immediately cut wastage and save money. It makes a big environmental difference too because reducing food waste is the climate action you can do three times a day.”


  • 9 in 10 agree that consumers have a role to play in preventing food waste. 
  • 3 in 4 people make a list before food shopping, a simple but effective way to avoid unnecessary purchases.
  • Use-By dates (68%) and Best-Before (55%) dates are the main reasons people throw out food are expired.
  • Looking at what gets thrown out, a high number of people said that bread (41%), vegetables (39%), fruit (39%) and salad (32%) are the foods they throw out most often.
  • And 62% of people forget to eat leftovers in time.

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