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/

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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

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

What’s new in the EU

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:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste/eu_actions/index_en.htm

http://resource.co/article/circular-economy-consultation-out-tomorrow-10161

http://resource.co/article/ec-launches-public-consultation-circular-economy-package-10167