About a third of all food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted – 1.3 billion tonnes per year, and 88 million tonnes in the European Union. In industrialized regions like the EU, more than 40% of food losses occur at retail and consumer level.
Promotions like "buy one get one free" appeal to everyone of us. But then there is no one to eat the additional dessert and finally, the date of expiry is reached and the food is thrown away. The exemplary situation above is a typical example for waste in industrialized regions. Estimating the amount of food needed is a challenge that many private households are currently facing. To save time, portion sizes are standardized and the meal and shopping planning is insufficient or non-existent. But not only at the very end of the food supply chain, but also at the very beginning or right in the middle, food is wasted. Challenges like stock management, adequate storage and transport conditions and the fluctuating demand for certain products complicate the minimization of food waste along the food chain.
But this must be the goal of all of us! Food loss causes $940 billion in economic losses and 8% of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Reducing the waste along the food chain was therefore set as Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Developments Goals, which calls on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030 by setting reduction targets, measuring progress and taking quick action to reduce food loss and waste. Believing in a three steps plan – target, measure, act - business and civil society around the world shall become dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3.
We already started and so can you! With minimal effort, you can save money and reduce food waste. By serving smaller amounts of food, freezing things and using up your leftovers, the first step is already done!
We at ELFIN are also highly committed to reducing food waste and its environmental impact. In March, we spent our annual Social Day at a local food distribution point in Cologne, preparing and distributing food with only small defects to those in need, reducing food loss and helping others at the same time.
To start your contribution to the reduction of food waste, informing yourself is the best way to start. You may never have thought of how easily the small things that could help reducing food waste can be included in your daily life. AS a first step, check out this list from the European Commission or this paper on better understanding “Best before” and “Use by” dates on food packaging!