1.2bn Bread Crusts Binned in UK Each Year – Does Nobody Want Curly Hair?

NLWA Program to Crunch Down on Crusty Bread Wasters

Some people love them. Rumour has it they make your hair curly. But apparently, a lot of people just chuck them in the bin. In the UK alone some 1.2 billion bread crusts are binned each year as one in five people overlook the crusty goodness at the end of their loaves.


Panzanella salad uses bread crusts.

Some people love them. Rumour has it they make your hair curly. But apparently a lot of people just chuck them in the bin. In the UK  alone some 1.2 billion bread crusts are binned each year as one in five people overlook the crusty goodness at the end of their loaves.

According to the North London Waste Authority (NLWA), which has launched the Save a Crust initiative, the equivalent of 59 million loaves of bread – or nearly £62 million1 – being thrown away in crusts alone. On average, a household that avoids crusts throws away the equivalent of a full loaf of bread per month.   

The Authority’s recently published research found that overall, 36% of households are throwing away crusts, 13% don’t eat the ends of sliced loaves and 6% reject the ends of fresh loaves. Young people seem to be far fussier about crusts with 14% of 16-24s cutting their crusts off sandwiches but just 2% of over 55s doing so. Youngsters are also much more likely to cut the crusts off their toast than the older generation.

Food waste is a huge problem in the UK, with the average household throwing away £810 worth of food every year3. And with bread in the top two most wasted food items4, NLWA has commissioned charity Keep Britain Tidy to launch a series of new, free ‘Save a Crust’ workshops in north London with professional chefs demonstrating how to make tasty treats from leftover bread.  

In addition, a free outdoor event with a live cookery demonstration will be taking place at Hollywood Green (180 High Road, Wood Green, London N22 6EJ) this Saturday 2 February where anyone can drop by without needing to book. Clover Hutson from Artisan Cooks will present the show and food samples will be offered to participants along with recipe cards and food waste reduction tools.  

Among the top tips to be offered by chefs at the events will be:  

Prep and storage: 

  • Pop crusts in a bag in the freezer as you go along – you’ll be surprised how quickly you have enough to cook or bake with 
  • To make breadcrumbs, if you haven’t got a blender use a cheese grater with either fresh or frozen crusts 
  • Plan ahead – with a little planning you can ensure none of the bread you buy goes to waste, saving you money and benefiting the environment.

Easy meal and snack ideas, including:  

  • Sweet treat: Cinnamon Crunch – toss crusts with butter, sugar and cinnamon for a snack similar to donuts 
  • Savoury bake: Coat chicken, fish and vegetables with breadcrumbs or use as a gratin to top a pasta bake or macaroni cheese.

Chair of NLWA, Councillor Clyde Loakes, commented:
“Many people will be familiar with reaching past the end slice of a loaf to get to the next piece. Equally, some people prefer their sandwich or morning toast without crusts. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but what’s important is that we start to shift the culture of just binning without thinking.

“Discarding your crusts may seem a small thing to do, but each crust adds to the huge food waste mountain which is damaging the environment and is very costly to manage. 

“What particularly surprised me with our research is that one in 10 under 35s say the problem of food waste is so huge they don’t believe anything they do will make a difference. We want to show that small changes can have a big impact and that’s one reason we’ve launched our Save a Crust campaign.

“Making brand new dishes and treats from a product you simply would have thrown away otherwise is a brilliant way for households to reduce their food waste and save some money – whilst brushing up on their baking skills.”  

As part of the effort cookery demonstration will showcase a range of delicious bread-based dishes, such as panzanella and ribollita soup, which will be available for visitors to try. Attendees will also be able to learn how to make their bread last longer and take away the recipes for the dishes cooked on the day.  

The free ‘Save a Crust’ Workshops will be held at primary schools in north London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest. 

The live outdoor open to all is taking place in Wood Green on 2 February, 11am to 3pm. Providing training and inspiration at these workshops will be professional chefs from the Skills Training Network, which helps individuals and families to cook in a healthy, affordable way which reduces food waste.   

If cutting down on food waste floats your boat check out the WUTW website to find out more about the campaign and get recipe ideas for making the most of leftover bread.  

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