Understanding behaviours driving food waste

Last year, be Waste Wise did a panel discussion with some key figures in the field of food waste  and looked at the behavioural drivers behind food waste that would need to be tackled in order to combat this waste. The article based on this panel discussion boiled identified six key issues:

1. The data: The stats around food waste are sadly lacking, which can make tackling an issue with so many unknowns a major challenge. Measuring waste both created and avoided is not easy and there is no one way to do so, making comparability an issue.

2. Lack of kitchen know how:  People spend less time preparing food than in the past, many ‘normal’ food skills have been lost, and we are no longer adept a making use of leftovers or kitchen scraps. Is it reasonable to tell people to invest more time in preparing their own food?

3. Visibility: Few people are confronted with their food waste in aggregate; not seeing it can easily translate to not seeing it as an issue.

4. Reduce packaging waste or food waste: Sometimes increased packaging can extend the life of food and prevent food waste, but it can also creates waste in other streams. This reveals larger scale issues in our food system: why do we need to make our fresh food last so much longer in the first place? Is our food system too large?

5.  Cheap food: Cheap food may be seen as a way to make calories accessible and affordable to more people, however, cheap food can contribute to food being undervalued and then wasted. However, few people would feel right saying that making food more expensive is the solution.

6. Policy approach: Voluntary agreements or landfill bans? Food waste can be tackled by different approaches, depending on political opinions. A big part of the debate is whether changes should be voluntary or enforced. In some places this may mean focusing on encouraging change in the private sector or educating the public as opposed to requiring source separation or banning organics from landfills.

Changing people’s behaviour to decrease food waste and to manage residual organic waste is not a simple task. If anything, the outcome of this panel discussion shows that food waste isn’t such a easy matter. One problem can have many potential solutions, all with different ramifications.

Want to read the whole article?

http://wastewise.be/2014/06/untangling-behavioural-drivers-behind-food-waste/

Don’t create waste in your effort to curb food waste

Reducing food waste in the home often means learning to store foods in ways that they will keep longer, unfortunately this often means using foil, plastic wrap or other disposables or plastics in order to seal in freshness. So what are the alternatives? Reducing food waste isn’t that impressive if all you do is increase waste in another category. Of course there are glass jars and containers, but what about when you need a replacement for the ever so practical plastic cling wrap? Well one option would be these fun looking CoverBubbles.

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Or go the even greener DIY route and make your own alternative using fabric and beeswax. It’s easier and faster than you might think, and you can use it over and over again!

DIY food wrap

Instructions can be found at onegoodthingbyjillee.com

Mediterranean Manifesto against food waste

Organic waste is being addressed in Mediterranean nations as a group of experts created and signed a manifesto outlining strategies for transforming food waste management in the region. The document acknowledges reduction as the priority in dealing with organic waste, but also selective collection and recycling, redefinition of infrastructures, regional cooperation and monitoring, communication, and sharing of good practices.

The Manifesto was created  by a working group of stakeholders and experts in the field of bio-waste and waste management through SCOW (Selective Collection of Organic Waste in tourist areas) at a technical workshop hosted by BCNecologia on February 25, 2015. The Manifesto is open for signatures by Mediterranean stakeholders such as businesses, NGOs and politicians or individuals. The project is funded in a large part by the European Union through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

The project seeks to define a creative and sustainable management system for organic waste, which will involve a collection and recycling system that is inexpensive, technically simple and of high quality (including the creation of small scale composting plants located near the areas where the waste is produced and the finished compost can then be used). The Manifesto is major step toward improving policy, and hopefully it translates to successful cooperation and a real commitment to improving waste management impacting policy in Mediterranean states.

Read more at:

http://www.zerowasteeurope.eu/2015/03/european-experts-sign-a-manifesto-in-barcelona-to-boost-a-new-model-of-food-waste-management/

Additional info, and the full Manifesto is available at:

http://www.biowaste-scow.eu/Manifesto-for-food-waste-managment

World Food Clock

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Sometimes numbers help put things into perspective. While perhaps it might cause you a bit of anxiety to leave this thing running for a while, it is definitely sobering. The World Food Clock counts the amount of food produced, consumed and wasted while you watch. It also breaks down the energy and water used in that food, and reveals other food facts that might make you rethink how you value your food.

Even Food & Wine is on board with ugly food

Food & Wine magazine editor gave a Ted talk this year encouraging the use of ugly veggies and creatures, to find the ‘inner beauty’ in the name of both taste and reducing food waste.  Dana Cowin claims this is the new food trend, and she hopes (as do I) that everyone gets on board. But let’s hope this sticks around as more than just a trend.

Interested in what Food and Wine magazine has to say about waste? Check out some of their online articles:

Should you be eating 18-month-old expired food, like the USDA suggests?

Beer made from unsold bread is helping combat food waste

WastED turns food waste into pop-up restaurant

11 ways to stop wasting food

Wasted food art

Food waste may not sound like the most beautiful thing, and it’s not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not turning heads in the art world.

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Dimitri Tsykalov’s macabre fruit and vegetable skull carvings show a gruesome picture of  unwanted food.

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Another art piece inspired by the excessive food waste in society is these baguette tables created by Studio Rygalik for the event the  “Bread Experience”.  The aim of this project was to create discussion around food waste.

Food Art Against Food Waste: Bread Tables By Studio Rygalik

Another group of artists, the New Glue Society, created perhaps an even more politically minded piece. Their installation, ” More Than Ten Items Or Less”  at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, consisted of a produce shop displaying the average food waste of an Australian household. the fruit was displayed as a normal shop, but was left untouched and rotting over the course of a week. The piece caused some controversy, which was the point, confronting  and disturbing viewers with the reality of their own waste.

  

For more Dimitri Tsykalov’s art: dimitritsykalov.com

For more on Baguette tables from Studio Rygalikhttp://www.studiorygalik.com/baguette-tables–vienna-design-week/

See more on “More Than Ten Items Or Less” at http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/october/more-than-ten-items-or-less

Want to see more posts on food waste artists? Check out our previous posts on Klaus Pichler, Uli Westphal and Gregg Segal

Big brands make big promises

The biggest players in the world’s food and drink industry have made a promise to halve the food they waste by 2025. This pledge was made at a meeting in New York of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a network of around 400 retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries, with combined sales of $2.8 trillion. In order to meet this promise, the CGF will measure a baseline for 2016 and then establish monitoring and reporting systems for its members to quantify and reduce waste.

While it’s great that food waste is on the radar of such large companies, I can’t help but be a bit skeptical, especially when the CEO of Nestle says the move is particularly aimed to preserve natural resources like water. Nestle Waters is the world’s leading bottled water company worldwide, and has on multiple occasions come under fire for misuse of water (for instance, it’s currently continuing to use California groundwater, even in the midst of drought). These actions don’t exactly show a company commitment to the vision of protecting the earth’s water supply (not to mention reducing packaging waste).  So while it may be a positive development to see food waste on the agenda, it could also be a way for companies to alleviate some of the public pressure and potential future regulation by looking like they’re already doing something about the problem. Time will tell, and hopefully this move is genuine, but in any event  it might not hurt to turn up the pressure on private companies to cut back on food waste.

 

 

 

Pope Francis denounces food waste

Even the pope is calling out food waste. On June 11, in an address to delegates of the FAO, Pope Francis encouraged Member States to work toward combating food waste,  particularly in light of food insecurity in the world. He expressed concern over the current state of global food waste stating, “It is unsettling to know that a good portion of agricultural products end up used for other purposes, maybe good, but that are not immediate needs of the hungry.”  Significantly, he also acknowledged the system of consumerism that promotes over-consumption and perpetrates waste. He urged consumers to make changes to their lifestyles in order to reduce waste and live more sustainably.  “Sobriety is not in opposition to development, indeed it is now clear that the one is a necessary condition for the other.”

While I may not be on the same page as the Pope on every issue, I can stand by him on this one. Hopefully his comments will influence his audience of delegates, but also the many followers who value his teachings.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/days-before-encyclicals-release-pope-condemns-culture-of-waste-26511/

http://www.onuitalia.com/eng/2015/06/11/pope-francis-to-fao-stop-food-waste-food-for-all-people/

Arash Derambarsh bringing the French food waste ban to the EU

The French councillor, Arash Derambarsh, the man behind the legislative change in France which requires supermarkets to donate excess food, has continued to ride the momentum of success and media to try to bring the initiative to the EU. The proposed amendment calls on the European commission to “promote in member states the creation of conventions proposing that retail food sector distribute their unsold products to charity associations” On July 9, MEPs included the food waste amendement last minute as a part of an adopted resolution on the “circular economy”. Derambarsh hopes to have the issue of food waste tabled at the United Nations later this year. The new legislation in France sparked some debate as to if this is really the  best way to combat waste, or if it is a well meaning, but misguided move. So while food waste should be on the EU agenda, should it be so quick to support this particular tactic, before the consequences in France have even been seen?

In May Arash Derambarsh (centre) succeeded in persuading the French government to pass a law  forcing supermarkets to donate products near their sell-by date to charities.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/07/campaign-to-cut-supermarket-food-waste-reaches-european-parliament

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/09/french-food-waste-councillor-calls-on-ec-supermarkets-law

Wholesale Markets and FAO partner to tackle waste

Photo: ©FAO/Asim Hafeez

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.

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/288367/icode/

http://www.fruitnet.com/fpj/article/165383/wuwm-partners-with-fao-to-tackle-food-waste