During this holiday season, we tend to buy and produce too much! This often results in tons of plastic bags, gift wrap, boxes, etc., that will be thrown away. Food surpluses represent a significant part of this waste.
EcoCook takes this opportunity to focus on the problem of food waste.

First of all, some important data.

  • Worldwilde, about 1/3 of food for human consumption is lost each year. In the EU this represents about 88 million tonnes of wasted food per year and 170 million tonnes of CO2 released by the production and disposal of food waste. [1]

  • Waste is generated throughout the chain from production, distribution to consumption of food. The sectors that contribute most to food waste in the EU are households (53%), the food processing sector (19%), food services (12%), primary production (11%) and wholesale and retail trade with 5%. [1]

  • Taking into account all stages of the Swiss food chain, 2.8 million tonnes of avoidable food losses are currently being produced. This amounts to about 330 kg of avoidable food waste per person per year, and represents 37% of agricultural production in Switzerland and abroad covering the demand of Swiss consumers [2]. Unfortunately, about a third of all garbage bags in Switzerland are made of bio-waste and about half of this waste is still edible food. [5]

  • Food waste not only generates greenhouse gas emissions but also has an impact on biodiversity, land use and water consumption. [2]

  • The land used to cultivate discarded foodstuffs represents more than half of Switzerland’s agricultural land.These additional lands required for the production of foodstuffs that are subsequently thrown away are no longer natural habitats for fauna and flora and contribute to the decline of Swiss biodiversity. [2] [7] [8]

  • Avoidable food losses represent 25% of the environmental impact of food in Switzerland [2]. This also corresponds to 50% of the environmental impact caused by individual motorised traffic. [6]

  • In Switzerland, in the hospitality industry, the majority of food waste comes from restaurants and hotels, with 290,000 tonnes of waste per year. For the catering sector, it is assumed that most of avoidable food waste comes from the preparation of excessive quantities or leftovers. About 68% of the total amount of waste could be avoided each year. [3]

  • The treatment of food waste has a financial cost. In Switzerland, “the catering industry spends nearly 20 million francs per year on waste treatment (methanisation and composting). If we add the cost of goods, estimated at roughly CHF 5.50 per kilo, this represents 1 billion francs lost each year in this sector. [4]

  • Knowing that the share of food waste produced by households is the highest and that this waste mainly comes from final products with high added value and high environmental impact, because the production chain is longer to produce them, it is up to households, consumers and final sellers to make an effort and reduce their food waste. [2] [5]

But what can we do to avoid food waste?
Here are some tips:

  • Stock planning and management

    • Maintain an up-to-date food inventory
    • Plan the number of meals per week with the number of people present
    • Adjust purchases according to stock and weekly planning
    • Have a system for monitoring storage and expiry dates adapted to each type of food and according to its speed of degradation
    • Apply the FIFO (“First In First Out”) inventory management method. The aim is to use the products and raw materials in order of entry into stock.
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity
  • Offer bread instead of systematically serving it
  • Offer accompaniments instead of systematically serving them
  • Provide small plates for the Buffet
  • Offer half-portions
  • Store leftovers in a reusable container
  • Recycle your green waste to produce biogas or compost
  • Use culinary creativity to transform the leftovers, for example in the form of pie or gratin, by cooking jams with tired fruit

Bibliography