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Britain Throws a Terrifying Amount of Salad Away Each Year

New figures from waste advisory body WRAP reveal that 40 percent of the bagged salad bought in the UK every year ends up being chucked.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
Photo via Flickr user kattebelletje

Open pretty much any fridge in the Western world and lurking alongside last night's pizza, you'll probably find a soggy head of lettuce. While the former can be resurrected with a quick zap in the microwave (or by being transformed into French toast, if you know what's good), that sad salad is destined only for the bin.

Of course, no one intends to subject lettuce leaves to such a fate. It's just damn hard to find tasty ways of using up wilting Romaine after the one-time BLT sandwich you initially bought it for.


Food waste figures released today show that sadly, you're far from the only one guilty of throwing away their greens. According to Government waste advisory body WRAP, 40 percent of the bagged salad bought in Britain every year is thrown away. That's the equivalent of 37,000 tonnes or 178 million bags.

WRAP's figures were published today by Tesco, a supermarket that has in the past been criticised for not doing enough to combat food waste. The figures are intended to highlight the fact that salads remain as one of the most binned food items in the UK, alongside bakery goods and fruit.

According to separate research carried out by Tesco, customers often buy bagged salads without a specific meal in mind, leaving leftover leaves forgotten at the back of the fridge and eventually binned. Flimsy packaging was also blamed for causing salad to go soggy.

Aiming to put a dent in this mountain of wasted watercress and spoiled spinach, Tesco also announced that from this week, it would begin selling its own-brand salad in resealable zip lock bags. The supermarket's produce buyer manager Adam Hill told the Guardian: "We've been working with our growers to develop new packaging which allows customers to return to their bags of salad over a number of days with very little hassle. We know many shoppers roll up their bagged salads after using them once and stick them at the back of their fridges where they are forgotten."

Food waste isn't the only environmental concern to be linked with salad. Vegetables like iceberg lettuce and celery require a huge amount of water and energy to produce (some research credits lettuce with creating more greenhouse gases per calorie than rearing pork), but offer very little in the way of nutrients and calories. Food experts have even recommended that we stop eating lettuce altogether.

A bacon and tomato sandwich just doesn't have the same ring to it, somehow.