The World Union of Wholesale Markets is partnering with the FAO in order to address gaps in addressing food waste. The partnership was announced May 28 at WUWM’s conference in Budapest, and it will involve gathering information about food waste in wholesale markets, and then aiding stakeholders to improve logistics, design and operations in order to cut waste. The overall aim is to increase discussion of food waste in the supply chain in order to cut down on food waste, especially in urban areas. The FAO has focused more on household food waste, but this move shows attention to other parts of the food system. The goal is to find research-based best practices in order to create a more efficient food system, particularly in cutting food waste and reaching urban markets.
The campaign Love Food Hate Waste, initially started by WRAP in the UK, has now taken off in Canada. Metro Vancouver has in many ways already proven it is ahead of the pack in terms of tackling food waste by banning it from landfill beginning this year (see earlier posts), and now it’s raising awareness and educating on food waste prevention. The campaign does this mainly by helping residents understand proper food storage techniques as well as recipes and techniques for dealing with leftovers and hard-to-finish foods, but also creates a platform for the sharing of users’ tips and ideas.Check out Love Food Hate Waste today, and maybe you’ll find some inspiration for yesterday’s rice.
Oh, and I’m all about their funny posters:
The European Commission has food waste on their radar, but their actions have been a bit difficult to read. Officially, the Commission is cracking down on food waste by promoting action through its Member States. In 2011, the European Commission identified in the “Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe” that food was a key sector where resource efficiency should be improved, and sounded the call-to-arms on food waste.
In 2014, the Commission put forward objectives for food waste reduction in the EU including a proposal for Member States to create strategies with a target of food waste reduction by at least 30% by 2025 across sectors. European Parliament also declared 2014 the “year against food waste.” Despite these moves, critics like Belgian MEP Bart Staes (see his article here) argued that the Commission had switched gears and was dragging its feet in creating solid policy.
The biggest evidence of this change in pace with the Commission is that the promised publication, “Building a Sustainable European Food System,” which was supposed to be released by early 2014 at the latest, remains unpublished despite non-profits (such as WWF) and a wide range of actors demanding its release.
In most recent developments, however, the European Commission has said that it is seeking to take a broader approach, and therefore released a public consultation on May 28 running until August 20 on its revised Circular Economy Package. This new package moves away from an “exclusive focus on waste management.” The new document does retain the goal that member states cut food waste by 30% by 2025, but broadens the focus from just food waste – which is good, so long as this doesn’t mean more cumbersome progress in creating policy by burying it among other connected issues. Eventually this package will involve a revised legislative proposal on waste and the creation of an action plan on the circular economy.
The consultation document is available here and the Roadmap for the initiative here.
For more information on the European Commission’s food waste initiatives and the Circular Economy Package:
While researching organic waste collection programs across Canada I found this photo:
This photo made me disconcerted. It was from a presentation given at a conference entitled, “On the Road to Zero Waste: How Two of North America’s Leaders are Succeeding.” Nova Scotia was being held up as a shining example of how to crack down on waste. The province certainly has been a forerunner in waste by banning all compostable and recyclable materials from landfill. One huge area where regulations have made an impact is in the commercial sector. Many municipalities have good success with residents adopting the organic waste “green cart,” but the commercial sector can be a whole other story. That’s why this photo is included in the presentation, and I get it – it’s not always easy to get businesses to participate in waste diversion programs. But what irks me about the photo is she is happily throwing away what appear to be completely safe and tasty Timbits.
We don’t like seeing food become waste. However, that doesn’t mean we just squirm a little in our seats thinking about food in landfill and then pat ourselves (or Tim Horton’s) on the back for ‘doing the right thing’ and composting like in this photo. Composting is better than the landfill, but it isn’t a panacea: it doesn’t erase the energy, time, labour, and money that went into producing the food. Municipal composting isn’t free, and large scale composting facilities have steep financial and environmental costs. Seeing composting as the best solution ignores the waste hierarchy that most municipalities across Canada hold as the guide to waste reduction and management.
Diversion is good, but it isn’t the best option and municipalities seem to pay lip service to waste prevention and reuse (or food sharing and donation) while directing finances and energy into composting. Municipalities direct residents not first to reduction or sharing or even the backyard composter or worm bin but to the municipal program.The City of Kingston’s website says “If you can eat it, it can go in the Green Bin.” Really the message should be if you can eat it, eat it, then feed your animals or worms your organic non-edibles. Food that is unspoiled is better off in the compost than the landfill, but one step better is for it not to be created and if there is potential waste the first option to be explored should be revaluing as food (although one could make a case that Timbits are hardly food to begin with). Keeping in line with the waste hierarchy businesses and residents should firstly try to reduce the excess they produce, but when there is unspoiled food about to be thrown out they should put it to use, with food banks willing to accept it or organizations like Second Harvest that use food rescue as a means to combat hunger.
When we stop congratulating businesses for the edible food they compost and instead prevent it from winding up in the waste bin at all, multiple problems are solved at once. Businesses save money by reducing their waste, improve their reputation by helping out the needy, less energy and money is spent on waste transportation and processing, and those in need don’t go hungry. Metro Vancouver has issued a ban similar to Nova Scotia; however, it is making a point of directing businesses to organizations that accept food donations as well as protecting and informing businesses about legality of donating food. Efforts like those in Metro Vancouver offer some hope that a shift is coming. It is time that food waste realities line up with our supposed priorities, to put our money where our mouths are…or perhaps food waste where our mouths are.