According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 1.3 billion tonnes of food is annually wasted in our country. The report by FAO further states that one-third of the total global food production is wasted costing the world economy about Rs 47 lakh crore or $750 billion. The alarming increase in food wastage which generates nearly 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, severely impacting the environment, as reported by The Pioneer.
Although the government has taken steps to curb food wastage, given the depth of the problem, the solutions are not satisfactory. While we are still in process to address the food wastage issue, a girl from Denmark single-handedly has helped reduce food waste by 25 percent in five years.
Selina is a 36-year-old graphic designer who is originally from Moscow, Russia and moved to Denmark. She says, “I come from a place where there was a shortage of food and people would queue for bread. I was amazed at how much food was wasted in Denmark, so I started a page on Facebook and began offering tips that would encourage people to make a list before they visit the supermarket and also take a picture of the inside of refrigerator if they have no time,” as reported by The Guardian.
Selina started a Facebook page “Stop Wasting Food” as an angry consumer and got a lot of press coverage. After three months, Rema 1000, Denmark’s biggest low-cost supermarket chain agreed to replace all the quantity discounts (like buy two get one free) with single item discounts which helped minimise food wastage.
She says, “It is disrespectful to waste food as it is the lack of respect for our nature. It also means lack of respect for the society, for the people who produce the food for animals and the lack of respect for your time and your money because you throw away the food you’ve been buying and you waste your time and you waste your money.”
Now, a group of volunteers in Denmark collect fruits and vegetables from local supermarkets that may be damaged while packaging or nearing the best before date and sell those to 100 to 150 locals each week. These volunteers are at the grass root of Denmark’s battle against food wastage. This initiative has resulted in the reduction of food wastage by 25%.
The customers of this initiative could be anyone in need since many families are in need of help after the many cutbacks.
These volunteers belong to a social housing project called Bo Welfare that runs the food waste pop-up shop.
The volunteers also prepare meals in a Horsen’s Visionary Kitchen. The meals are prepared from shop-donated food that has reached its sell-by date. A food bank is also run by volunteers named Kolding Madhjælp that stocks pallets of supermarket produce which have been wrongly marked or else be destroyed. These are stocked in a bank alongside surplus food from a nearby hotel. The first food waste supermarket Wefood in Copenhagen has been successful that a second is planned for Aarhus City this year.
Another start-up Too Good To Go tackles waste from a weekend institution- the all you can eat buffet. This allows customers with outlets come at a sho[ and fill the boxes with food at very low prices.
In of the service station of Denmark, the staff recycles imperfect pastries into rum balls or ROM Kugler ( cocoa balls).
There are many other initiatives in Denmark against food waste than any other city in Europe. They organise awareness campaigns, also partnerships to government subsidies for food waste projects. This has also been possible because of Stop Spild Af Mad- Stop Wasting Food- a lobby group which has been set up by Selina Juul, a graphic designer.
The group Stop Spild Af Mad also ran a campaign about having a clear out once a month to eat the leftovers. The initiatives have been successful in reducing the food wastage by 25 percent in the country.
The Government of Denmark had credit Selina for their dramatic drop in food waste.
If a citizen can single-handedly address the food wastage issues, then initiatives like these can also be tried in our country.