Every year, almost a third of food purchased in Germany is thrown away. This figure is mirrored across the European Union, where annual food waste levels sit at over 100 million tonnes, expected to rise to about 126 million tonnes by 2020 if nothing is done to combat the problem.
A new website has been designed to draw attention to this problem. Resterechner.de invites consumers to input which items they throw away each week before calculating their value in terms of money and energy used. The energy usage is shown in terms of tangible equivalent measurements, such as hours spent surfing the internet or number of cakes that could be baked using the energy.
The website is one of a number of initiatives aimed at making consumers aware of how much food they waste each week. It is hoped, that by bringing people face to face with the problem and helping them to think about cutting down in terms of tangible financial benefits, less food will be wasted in total.
Barcelona uses catering tender to promote organic produce
Barcelona City Council’s Municipal Education Institute (IMEB) has been gradually introducing sustainability criteria into its catering tenders since 2006. IMEB is responsible for more than 100 kindergartens, schools and other centres of education across the city. Its most recent tender aimed to promote the use of organic, seasonal produce and reduce the environmental impacts associated with cleaning products used in kitchens by awarding points to those bidders who would use non-toxic and non-hazardous chemicals in cleaning products.
Technical specifications included the provision of a waste management plan and a training programme for staff which covered areas including waste minimisation, selective waste collection, the environmental characteristics of food products and low environmental impact cleaning procedures and products used in the contract. All vegetables were required to be fresh, with fresh fish used at least 3 times every month. Organic fruit juices and yogurts were also required.
As well as including a number of green criteria, the tender was divided into six lots covering different geographic areas in order to stimulate competition and the inclusion of SMEs. At the award phase, 10 of the 20 points given were related to environmental quality aspects, with 9 of these given for using organic food in the daily menus. The final contract was divided amongst four of the eight suppliers who bid, with the successful bidders offering prices between 11 and 20 percent lower than IMEB’s estimate.
International panel promotes transition to sustainable global food systems
A new international panel has been set up to provide evidence-based advocacy on sustainable food systems and diets. Co-chaired by former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Professor Olivier de Schutter and former UNICEF representative to Kenya Dr Olivia Yambi, the panel aims to convince politicians, the private sector and the general public of the necessity of a transition to more sustainable food production and consumption.
The panel will be made up of scientists and recognised experts working in ecology, environment, nutrition, and food production and consumption as well as representatives of consumer associations and other civil society organisations. Together they will collect and analyse pre-existing research, identify and carry out research in priority areas and develop tools to help political decision makers better understand and present paths to sustainable food systems.
'Food systems are being fundamentally reformed, and alternatives are emerging to the mainstream food system: it is more important than ever that decisions are made on the basis of the best science available,' said Prof. de Schutter.
INNOCAT partner Turin looks into catering's carbon footprint
The City of Turin (Italy), an INNOCAT partner, has recently published results of a monitoring exercise to establish the size of the city catering contract’s carbon footprint. Turin has a population of over 900,000 people and provides approximately 8 million meals to schools and kindergartens each year. The current catering contract, which has been in place since 2013, includes a number of sustainable procurement criteria. These include the purchase of energy efficient appliances, the use of low carbon vehicles for transportation, using tap water instead of bottled, decreased packaging levels and a switch to packaging with a lower environmental impact.
The City wished to see which measures had been effective as well as recognizing areas of improvement for the next catering contract. Using a life cycle analysis approach which considered emissions from field to plate, they measured the carbon footprints of the five most commonly consumed food products (potatoes, carrots, apples, pears and peaches). Results were interesting and, in some cases, surprising. It was discovered, for example, that transportation within the city accounted for just 1 percent of the overall carbon footprint while production processes for the product groups measured amounted to between 75 and 95 percent of the total.
Turin is currently considering whether to apply this model more widely and calculate the entire environmental footprint (including ecological, carbon and water) of the catering service.