Initiatives on prevention of food waste in the retail and wholesale trades

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This project was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers and its waste prevention group. The background to the project is that waste prevention is the highest priority in the waste hierarchy according to the EU Waste Directive. One other reason is the heavily increasing discussions in society on food waste in general. The project has been focusing on amounts of food waste, causes for food waste generation and initiatives to reduce the amounts of food waste from the retail and wholesale sector. Furthermore it gives some recommendations to measures that could be taken to change the present situation.



Amounts and what types of food waste is generated and how is it treated

Several studies about the amount of food waste have been done in both Europe and the US over the last decades. Many of those are focusing on waste from households, and only a few studies have studied the retail and wholesale sector. Those studies are not too deep (data are only from short sampling periods, a few number of retail shops and without differentiating between different product groups etc.). Table 2 gives a short overview of the estimated amounts of food waste in some non-Nordic countries in the retail and wholesale sector. Studies performed in the Nordic countries are listed under each country’s chapter in Appendix 1. It is important to remember that the figures presented in Table 2 are generated with different methods, different objectives and different definitions. The impact of each of these choices are large — if the measurements are done to find total food waste or just avoidable food waste for example will have an impact on the amounts. If the findings are based on factors or on measurements will of course also have an impact, not the least on the reliability of the figure. Therefore it is extremely hard to compare them and judgements should always be made very carefully. They are presented here in order to give a general overview on what data that is available.


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