The 4 solutions to food waste

  •   April 14th, 2015
  •   Category: News
  •   Posted by: Ecodyger

Across Europe, there are hundreds of initiatives to reduce the accumulation of waste food. In this area, the “European Waste Framework Directive” (Directive 2008/98/EC) is clear about the hierarchy for the management of the waste.

EU hierarchy_prevention_EN

Priority is given to reducing waste at the source, followed by reuse, recycling and recovery, with the elimination of last resort. This concept has been applied to food waste by the US Agency for Environmental ProtectionAfter a first attempt to reduce waste, EPA suggests that the food yet “edible” is redistributed to people, animals and then industry.

The strategies include raising awareness through campaigns, information, education, measuring waste and improving logistics. However, activity is recent and limited to the assessment; both will have to be continued and refined.

Solution 1: Measuring food waste


The act of separating the food from other waste may be an increase of awareness.

Measure and report the levels of waste promotes the use of standardized methodologies at a national level and would allow targeted analysis and prevention that could be guided by the identification of targets for the prevention of waste.

Solution 2: Awareness campaigns


The British company that deals with the sustainable management of waste, the now famous WRAP Waste & Resources Action Programme has campaigned in the UK for people who ‘love food, hate waste’; the English campaign recorded a 13% reduction on the waste during three years, 2007-2010.

WRAP has found that people who plan, create shopping lists and monitor what foods have, waste less food of the “spontaneous buyers”. The organization encourages people to get the best from their leftovers and use foods that are close to the expiration date for new recipes. Raise awareness at the consumer level may also increase awareness within the supply chain. A good approach is to exercise habits of minimizing waste through cooking classes, such as the local authority of Brussel (BruxellesEnvironnement) has trained 1,000 people in 2009. The European Parliament has recommended that this practical training is incorporated into school curricula. Even in Italy we are witnessing the birth of similar initiatives just because school age is that you can “change” habits otherwise consolidated in adults.

There are similar educational opportunities in the hospitality industry. The caterers can help minimize waste by anticipating demand, informed by reservations and research retroactive consumers. At the same time, allow the restaurant diners to take home the leftovers in a “doggy bag” is a common phenomenon in the US, but this practice is still frowned upon in some European countries. Effort is required in the whole society to banish embarrassment.
Leftovers should be refrigerated within 2 hours and consumed within 24 hours, heated carefully until they are totally hot.

Solution 3: Communicate freshness


On food labels can be found several dates: ‘Best before’, ‘use by’, ‘expiry date’, ‘sell by’, but these are not always used regularly.

The European Parliament has suggested a dual-date labeling to include both dates ‘sell by’ that can help wholesalers to avoid selling products that are reaching their expiration date and ‘expiration date’. But first of all you need before the consumer understands the terminology.

Current legislation on the provision of food information to consumers reserves the expiration date for highly perishable foodstuffs. After this date are considered unsafe (safety indicators).

The date ‘best before’ refers to a minimum period, after this date it is unlikely to cause damage but the manufacturer warns that the sensory qualities (taste, texture, etc.) may not be as good as expected (quality indicator). When integrating their validity, advice on storage conditions may accompany the date.

Consumers should be reassured that “… the use of their senses (sight, smell and taste) is sufficient for many food products”, except when there is an expiration date exceeded.

A research by the Food Safety of Ireland (FSAI) authorities points out that a significant proportion (46%) of Irish consumers say they have no problems eating food that has passed the expiration date, thus potentially at risk their health.

The products that show an expiration date exceeded may be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and yet show no change and therefore should not be eaten.

Consumers should make sure that the packages are intact and in particular that the dry products such as sugar, flour and coffee, not damp and are not insects.

Further guidance for businesses would help standardize communication of dates and storage recommendations that can significantly increase the duration, eg. keep dry foods in airtight containers.

Freezers offer the opportunity to store food. The advice on food labels regarding freezing instructions should be harmonized so that consumers can freeze food safely.

Sellers can also support consumers by promoting the use of labels and pens for freezers, containers for the storage, thermal bags (for carrying refrigerated cooked food) and thermometers for refrigerators (to maintain domestic refrigerators between 0 ° C and 5 ° C).

Innovations in packaging can reduce waste and especially the environmental impact, improving the materials and appearance features as re-sealable packaging and developing intelligent films that indicate loss of freshness by changing color

Solution 4: Redistributing good foods

The food surplus should lower the management hierarchy of the waste and be re-distributed. The European Parliament called the European Commission to produce clear guidance on the safety of using this surplus.

Waste may include perfectly edible food rejected for the appearance. To address this issue, a European law was issued that governs the quality standards of fruit and vegetables (EC No 1221/2008) to allow the sale of products less aesthetic.

However, the sale and use requires consumer acceptance. The range in quality can be reflected in the price. In order to avoid the waste, sellers use price promotions for foods slightly damaged or close to maturity, although banned in some Member States. Discounts are recommended on wholesale sales, but there is a risk of moving the waste to the consumer behavior by encouraging excessive purchases and even encouraging an over-consumption. The food banks play their important role here.
Many countries such as Austria, Denmark, Italy, Spain, UK have programs to food banks of success, in which excess food is transported from the sellers to the needy or to other markets, for example. discount stores or local markets but are of low scale.

Bonus: General savings

As the FAO states: “there is the necessity to find a beneficial and right use for secure food which at the moment are being discarded”.

With the population growth, food demand and affluence, there’s also a rise of food waste

The food industry, sellers and consumers, must be aware and act on this matter.

A few simple measures won’t be positive just for our pockets, but they will also lead to global benefits.