We should start by wasting less and this means changing our attitude towards finding coordinated solutions in our societies.

Essential changes in the way supply-chain operations are carried over are at the heart of the problem, followed by giving incentives to local markets and increasing public awareness to adjustments made to change consumer behaviour.

There may be local schemes already. If not, here are a few:

–       Local authorities should set themselves targets for food waste prevention information campaigns at local schools and implement measures in their own operations such as starting a municipal composting programme.

–       Local markets and businesses should look at their perishables, try to understand and analyse the extent of their own waste patterns and start adopting best practices to lead not only to customer satisfaction but also savings.

–       At the farms, food loss falls into two categories:

  • food that is never harvested, and
  • food that is lost between harvest and sale.

–       There are many reasons why produce may not be harvested. It can be due to disease, pests, or weather. But it can also be caused by man, with food safety scares often unfounded that create a negative notion on consumers and decreased demand.

–       It can be also due to labour shortages or workers trained to only pick selectively and fields may be left with significant amounts of food left behind. This is when communities could come together and organize the means to pick what is left behind, using association at school and other levels.

California gives farmers a tax credit for donation of their excess produce to food banks, just as do Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado.[1]

But the primary reason for fresh food losses comes with culling.[2] These post-harvest losses are considerable (sometimes up to 50% of production) but the items are perfectly edible. Those which are off-grade[3] could be processed.

In order to make this viable the processing plants should be built as close as possible to the source to save on transport costs and have the capacity to handle this excess produce, otherwise more waste will occur.

Off-grade produce also goes to feed animals, and although loss through improper storage and handling are negligible these days, much fresh produce can go to waste if a buyer cannot be found on time.

Processing facilities can also generate food waste by technical malfunction but there is great potential at this stage from trimmings which can be used from scrap to new by-products by re-cycling.

Local businesses such as hotels and restaurants should create partnerships with local farmers to use up quickly and effectively all product which is useful to them and programmes to re-educate staff behaviour and alter kitchen culture could contribute to minimize food waste.

Lisbon wants to be one of the first cities in the world to go fight food waste. With project Lisbon 100%, Re-Food wants to serve over 15,000 meals per day from leftovers from restaurants and hotels. They are looking for volunteers and restaurants as partners.

Source: http://www.re-food.org/

Food is the largest part of municipal solid waste to go to landfills nowadays where it eventually gets converted into methane, twenty-fold more powerful in global warming terms than carbon dioxide.

By Silvia Pelham

[2] Culling is the process of selection of surplus animals from an animal population and in this content means the removal of unwanted products based on their quality or appearance, including size, shape, colour, weight, blemish level and Brix (a measure of sugar content).

[3] Without sufficient quality to be sold in major markets.